The earlobe is a unique area in that the keloid is also stimulated by an allergic response to the metal of the stud or sleeper of an earring.
The usual sleeper is made of non-medical steel covered with a thin plating of gold. This plating easily dissolves and exposing the steel which contains impurities such as nickel, which stimulate the keloid.
The earlobe keloids appear at the site of the piercing, both on the front and the back of the ear and eventually can replace the whole earlobe. This cause of keloids was discovered by Mr Bryan Mayou, the founder of the Cadogan Clinic, as a result of research done with the support of the Goldsmith’s Company. In the past the usual advice has been to not re-pierce the ears because the keloid would reform, but Bryan Mayou’s research showed that patients could go on to have ears re-pierced by avoiding these studs and also solid 14 carat gold, which also contains a lot of impurities.
Keloids are rare if 18 or 22 carat studs or sleepers are used to keep the piercing open. The other consequence of the research is that the treatment of these keloids is relatively straight forward in that the first line treatment is to simply remove the keloids and the old piercing track, allow healing and then re-pierce 6 weeks later. Without the allergy, the return of the keloid is unlikely. Elsewhere in the body the treatment of keloids by simple excision would lead to the recurrence of an even bigger keloid!
Now it is not essential to use 18 or 22 carat gold studs as of course other non-allergic materials would be adequate. These would include silver and plastic. The Cadogan Clinic treatment of keloids is actually less complicated than the usual recommendations and is more effective. It allows you to wear earrings again but these are going to be expensive.