Information about cause, treatment, and prevention

Flatten Keloid Scars With Surgical Tape & Wound Dressings

Surgical tape and medicated wound dressings help reduce keloid scars.

Studies show that dressings that are partially to totally air and water-tight (occlusive) as well as hydrating can help with healing new wounds and decreasing the symptoms of scar tissue (e.g., itchiness and pain).3,20

Cordran® tape combines a strong topical steroid with surgical tape, applying a consistent dose of the medication with an occlusive dressing. Consistent with other such dressings, Cordran® can help alleviate itchiness too. Dermatologists caution that using Cordran® for a long time may cause the skin to thin out too much in some people, but this is due to the steroids (not the tape). Cordran® can also be used in combination with compression therapy.3,16

Method Products are self-adhesive and applied directly to keloid site. May also be in gel form that solidifies over wound.8
How Often Most experts suggest 2-3 months of use with a minimum of 12 hours each day.17 Some indicate that 6-12 months may be necessary to be effective.8,16
Usual Types
  • Silicone sheets21
  • Silicone gel, cream, spray, and foam17,21
  • Non-silicone sheets3
  • Cordran® tape16,3
Typical Usage Product must be removed and reapplied daily so the keloid or wound site can be cleaned. Sheets are washable.17
Is it Painful? No.8
Side Effects

For nonsteroidal dressings only minor adverse side effects such as bacterial infection can typically be avoided with changing dressing as appropriate and keeping the area clean.8

Dressings that contain steroids (e.g., Cordran® tape) are typically linked to only minor side effects such as skin irritation, burning sensation, and itchiness that tend to go away in a few days. Rarely side effects can include skin discoloration, acne, headache, vision problems, fatigue, or a serious allergic reaction.25

How Do Wound Dressings Work?

Safe to use, dressings are a noninvasive way to soften and flatten keloids. Some experts suggest the increased temperature, moisturization, and changes in oxygen levels to the scar tissue may play a role in making the keloid more pliable,17 but others indicate temperature and oxygen levels do not play a role.8 Results from one study suggest that the silicone component may not be as important as the hydration and protective effects of these dressings since there appeared to be no difference in treatment outcomes between silicone and non-silicone dressings.20 Occlusive therapy using silicone sheets appears to have anti-inflammatory effects, which in turn suppresses the production of excess collagen.5,21

Are Silicone and Non-Silicone Dressings Effective on Keloids?

Evidence from some clinical trials on silicone and non-silicone sheet dressings has demonstrated they can reduce the size and symptoms of keloids for the majority of patients.2 Importantly, in one study over 90% of patients were satisfied with results from non-silicone semi-occlusive dressings after only eight weeks.3 When used by themselves, dressings appear to work better for newly formed or developing scars and for younger patients.8,16

Use of silicone dressings is considered standard therapy despite a recently published Cochrane review of the clinical trials that suggested that the quality of the studies was questionable.8,17 Regardless of the limits of study design, decades of practical use and research indicate silicone dressings offer some success, especially when combined with other therapies.2-3 However, it may be that the real benefit comes from the occlusive and moisturizing properties of the dressing rather than the silicone.21

As with any treatment, patient compliance is important to successful results. Because dressings require months of daily treatment, patients often stop applying them; this can reduce the rates of success in this safe and noninvasive treatment option.

Redness, itchiness, and pain.
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