Keloids are a type of fibrous scar tissue that can form around body piercings. They are a result of excessive collagen that forms during connective tissue repair. Everyone is susceptible to keloids, but people with less melanin in their skin may be less susceptible. Once keloids form, they usually do not regress, so it is important to try to prevent keloids from the beginning. Keloids can develop even with careful ear care, so there is no sure way to prevent them, but keeping the area of the piercing clean and dry may help.

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Pierce ears at a younger age. According to a study done by the Medical College of Georgia, people who had their ears pierced under the age of 11 were less likely to develop keloids.

Clean your piercing regularly with alcohol and a cotton ball. Swab the area gently and avoid agitating the wound. If there is excessive scabbing or discharge, moisten the area with warm water with a little salt mixed in to clear away the gunk.

Eat a diet rich in vitamin E and foods that promote healthy collagen formation, such as red peppers or tomatoes. These foods contain lycopene, which inhibits the enzyme that damages collagen. You can also get Vitamin E oil and spread it directly on the piercing area.

Don’t touch your piercing except to clean it. Your hands carry many germs, and if you are constantly touching your piercing, you run the risk of infecting it. Wash your hands every time you clean the piercing.

See a doctor if a keloid begins forming despite your best efforts. A doctor can treat the keloids with corticosteroid injections or silicone gel sheeting, according to the medical blog Everything Health. Because keloids usually do not get smaller once they’ve begun to form, it’s important to treat them early.