March 2021

Do you suffer from painful or itchy keloid scars?

Do you suffer from painful or itchy keloid scars? We are a group of scientists from King’s College London who would love to hear from you.

Despite being common symptoms of keloid scars, pain and itch are poorly understood. Currently, we do not know why some patients with keloids experience no symptoms beyond scarring, while others suffer from terrible pain or itch.

To help us understand better, we have recently formed a new research team to unite what we know about keloid scars with what we know about the nerves that innervate them. Together, we want to better assess pain and itch in keloid disease.

An example of a keloid scar*

How do we plan to do this?

There are different types of pain depending on which kind of tissue has been damaged. For example, if nerves in your skin have been damaged, we call this “neuropathic pain”. If your nerves are healthy, but merely responding to factors released by scar tissue, we call this “nociceptive pain”. It is very important to distinguish between these pains, as it will guide pain management and also facilitate the search for better treatments.

To figure out what type of pain someone with keloid disease experiences, we have different assessment tools. We have numerical rating scales, where participants are asked to rate their pain intensity on a scale of 0-10, for example. We also ask people to describe their pain, which is surprisingly helpful in distinguishing between neuropathic and nociceptive pain. Burning and tingling pain, for instance, is more often associated with the former. Finally, we can conduct a series of standardised sensory tests in the laboratory to assess how nerves respond in the scar tissue compare to healthy skin.

Why are we asking for your help?

We want our research to be of use to individuals living with keloid scars – so we feel we first need to hear from you about what YOU think we should work on the hardest.

For instance, we are currently planning to start with a study on painful keloid scars but maybe you will tell us that itch is much more of an issue? We would love to know your thoughts on this.

We also need your help to choose the most appropriate pain assessment tools. Only someone living with painful scars can tell us what keloid pain feels like and enable us to select the right tools for its study, or indeed develop a skin/scar-specific pain assessment tool.

We would love to hear from you!

Please leave a comment below or – better yet – fill out this anonymous survey to help us come up with a research programme that best benefits the keloid patient community.

If you wish to further contribute to this research, we would like to invite to take part in a discussion group about specific pain questionnaires – you can sign up to our focus group using this form.


Dr Shaw, Dr Denk and Ms Duagi

Dr Tanya Shaw, King’s College London
Dr Franziska Denk, King’s College London
Ms Denis Duagi, PhD Candidate, King’s College London 

Find Dr Shaw, Dr Denk and Ms Duagi on Twitter. 

* Credit File:Keloid-Nodular, Keloid Tumor.JPG" by Htirgan is licensed with CC BY-SA 3.0.

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