Is silicone sheeting effective for managing keloid scars?

First of all, what are keloid scars? If you have one or more, you probably know all too well what they are. Although some keloids are spontaneous or result from something as small as a pimple or a piercing, most occur after some sort of trauma to the skin such as an accidental cut, abrasion from a fall or surgical incision. They are raised, tough and pink or purplish in color, and genetics may play a part in their development.

In an article in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Joan Smith, Ph.D. (et al) states that keloids are benign skin tumors that occur “predominantly in people of African and Asian descent.” But keloid formation is by no means limited to specific ethnicities. Sometimes it just runs in the family or is simply a matter of bad luck.

Unlike a raised, reddish hypertrophic scar that stays within the wound site, keloids tend to keep growing beyond it. Basically, they just don’t know when to quit. There are numerous approaches to flattening, shrinking and fading keloids. The most aggressive approach is scar revision surgery that removes it. However, it is well documented that the keloid will grow back and can even have a bigger, worse appearance. Cortisone injections may help, but they can be painful and can cause the scar to become redder. Other methods include lasers, freezing, radiation and a slew of home remedies. And then there’s topical silicone.

Although the results of using silicone are mixed (because no one technique works for all people), it has often been effective in flattening and shrinking the scar as well as fading its color. According to Aetna InteliHealth, “Moist wound coverings made of silicone gel sheets have been shown in studies to reduce the size of keloids over time. This treatment is safe and painless.” Silicone sheeting is also low-cost and easy to use.

Silicone can also work in minimizing or preventing keloids in children. Dr. Donna M. D’Alessandro, Professor of Pediatrics at University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, reports that, “Looking at the whole, silicone sheeting appears effective for prevention and treatment of hypertrophic scar and/or keloid formation.”

It’s not exactly clear why silicone works; however, there is general agreement that silicone’s properties include hydration of the scar which reduces capillary action. That means, as Dr. D’Alessandro says, “…less wound redness and with less resulting collagen deposition, the scars are flatter.”

For more about silicone sheeting (and gel) for flattening and shrinking keloids, check out