How to get rid of keloids has some overlap with natural ways to get rid of scars. However, keloids are made up of skin cells that are a bit different — and much stronger — than normal scars. You can try some of the home remedies below to lighten the appearance or even shrink the size of your keloids. Before you begin, though, talk to your doctor. Some people may have bad reactions to treatments applied directly to their skin. Get care from a health care professional if you notice extreme skin irritation, worsening of the keloid or signs of allergy or infection.
Natural keloids therapies or tips you may wish to try include:
- Crushed garlic
- Homemade retinol cream
- Other scar minimizers
Honey has long been used in dressing wounds. It has well-documented antimicrobial properties that can help fight infections in skin injuries. Although keloid-specific research is limited, one research study found that honey as well as honey combined with Calotropic Procera (also called milkweed, apple of Sodom, or roostertree) was effective in limiting and healing keloid-like scars in animals. (5)
In addition, a review of studies on the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of honey called out its potential for keloid therapy. The researchers believe that honey’s impact on keloids is likely due to its anti-inflammatory properties, which may calm the skin. Honey may be most useful when applied during the initial healing process, however. (6, 7)
A clinical study in children also found that extracts of tualang honey were also effective in stopping the growth of a keloid scar. (8)
- Dab honey onto the keloid at least two or three times a day.
- Use a raw, minimally processed honey, or the darkest honey you can find to maximize your exposure to its health benefits. (9)
- You can apply it more often if needed.
- Wash the honey off when the area gets too sticky or dirty.
Several clinical studies have found onion to be a useful treatment for keloids. This is probably because it contains quercetin, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Researchers have studied the use of onion extract gel applied to the skin, including under dressings and compresses.
Although onion extract gel has been used effectively for keloid prevention and treatment on its own, other studies combined it with traditional medications and found it boosted reduction of keloids. (10, 11, 12) The study where the gel alone was effective included Asian women with scarring from cesarean section births. They applied a 12 percent topical onion extract gel three times a day for 12 weeks and had smaller, less noticeable scars than those who applied a placebo gel. (13)
You can try a similar approach at home: (14)
- Cut an onion into small pieces.
- Press down on them with a clean towel to squeeze out the juice.
- Dab the juice on the keloid, or place just the wet towel on the keloid. Let it dry.
- Rinse your skin.
- Repeat up to four times per day.
Garlic has many potential benefits for the skin. Laboratory findings showed it may act in much the same way as some current conventional treatments for keloids, making it a promising possible remedy.
- Crush a few garlic cloves and apply them directly to the skin.
- Rinse after 15 minutes or if you start to notice irritation.
Homemade retinol cream
Retinoids are derived from vitamin A. Laboratory studies have found that they can break down the fibers in keloids. You can make a homemade version of common store-bought retinol (a type of retinoid) creams by following Dr. Axe’s recipe.
Other scar minimizers
There is some evidence that other plant-based substances can also fight scarring. These include:
- Green tea (technically, the epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea)
- Oleanolic acid
- Shikonin (derived from Lithospermum erythrorhizon, a Chinese herb)
- Emodin (derived from Himalayan rhubarb, buckthorn and Japanese knotweed)