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Thursday, Feb 09, 2023

Raising Hong Kong people’s awareness of keloids to avoid procrastination of medical treatments

Commissioned by The Keloid Association of Hong Kong, ESDlife conducted the “Social Knowledge and Awareness of Keloid in Hong Kong” survey in October 2022. The survey was carried out on 533 local individuals to understand Hong Kong people’s perception of keloids and raise public awareness for keloid patients to enhance mutual support.
The survey shows that over 70% of respondents have never heard of keloids. Due to the lack of understanding, many Hong Kong people carry misconceptions about keloids. When photos of keloid scars were shown to respondents, 12% of them mistook them as bacterial infection and inflammation. Some thought it was a normal scar (6%), and 5% thought it was some sort of contagious skin disease. In addition, 66% of respondents mistakenly thought keloids were caused by bacterial infection. The misconceptions on the causes of keloids urge immediate attention to strengthen public understanding.

“Keloid is different from normal scars as it will not subside on its own over time. It will continue to proliferate beyond the original wound,” Dr. Gregory Lau, Specialist in Plastic Surgery says. “Procedures such as ear piercing, tattooing, and some beauty treatments can also cause skin damage and trigger keloids. Genetic factors play an important role in the development of keloids,” Lau adds.. He also underscores the importance of avoiding unnecessary damage to the skin if someone has a family history of keloids or is prone to scarring as they have a higher risk of having keloids.

Although keloids are benign, they can cause many inconveniences to patients. Keloids contribute to the deterioration of patients’ self-esteem as well as affecting their social interaction and mental health accordingly. Female keloid patients worry about what to wear to cover up their keloids every day while male patients are most concerned about the swelling, itchiness, and pain in the affected area as it causes insomnia and affects daily life.

Actor Mr. Lo Chun Yip shares his experience of living with keloids for years. He started to search for relevant information when the itchiness caused by keloid affected his sleep quality and sometimes caused insomnia. “The several keloids on my chest and arm affect my work as an actor, especially when filming requires me to show my upper body. Therefore, I started considering treating my keloids.”

Keloids should be treated early to achieve better recovery, with various treatment options available. “If the symptoms are mild and the affected area is small, usually steroid injection or pressure therapy could be used. For severe cases, cryotherapy or surgical resection with superficial radiation therapy (SRT) may be considered. In general, after appropriate treatment and with continuous monitoring, keloids can be effectively controlled.” Dr. Tony Chan, Specialist in General Surgery explains. He advised patients to seek a diagnosis from a doctor with relevant experience and get the right treatment as early as possible.

To raise social awareness and understanding, a group of keloid patients joined hands to establish The Keloid Association of Hong Kong to provide emotional support and mutual assistance to keloid patients. “With the establishment of our patient support association, I hope to strengthen public awareness about keloids, and empower keloid patients throughout their treatment journey,” Ms. Ingrid Stowe, Chairperson of The Keloid Association of Hong Kong remarks.

“Most importantly, I hope that our fellow keloid patients would not feel ashamed of their scars, instead, embrace these ‘badges’ on our bodies that remind us of our courage,” Stowe concludes.

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