People are performing ‘disturbing’ DIY procedures to remove unsightly skin blemishes in an internet trend that is being slammed by experts.
The so-called ‘rubber-band method’ of removing scar tissue puts people at risk of permanent disfigurement, serious infections and even death, according to the British Skin Foundation.
A growing number of tutorials on YouTube, some of which have been viewed more than 155,000 times, show at-home methods for the removal of keloids, which are heaped-up scar tissue that rise abruptly above the skin.
YouTubers are seen wrapping rubber bands tightly around their keloids to restrict their blood supplies, causing them to turn black and fall off.
Dr Anton Alexandroff, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, said: ‘This is a very unhelpful practice which is very painful and can result in infection.
‘It can also result in further disfigurement in certain areas because it can cause necrosis [cell or tissue death] in an uncontrollable and unpredictable way.’
Around 10 per cent of people are prone to developing keloids.
A bizarre internet trend involves placing a rubber band around built-up scar tissue, or keloids
These bands restrict keloids’ blood supplies, causing them to turn black and eventually fall off
Experts warn this can be life-threatening if it leads to necrosis, which is tissue and organ death
Although the method may remove keloids, experts claim the approach is ‘disturbing’
DIY removal could cause keloids to grow back bigger
Dr Alexandroff adds: ‘Keloid scars frequently recur and often grow even bigger than the original scar.’
WHAT IS THE RUBBER-BAND METHOD?
The so-called ‘rubber-band method’ to remove keloids – raised scar tissue – has done the rounds on YouTube.
Some tutorials of the bizarre method, slammed by experts, have been seen more than 150,000 times.
It involves tying rubber bands tightly around keloids to restrict their blood supply.
Over time, the keloid turns black and eventually falls off entirely – a method similar to the one employed by farmers to castrate lambs.
Scar reduction specialist and spokesman for the gel Nourisil MD, Peter Batty added: ‘These videos are deeply disturbing.
‘I’d advise in the strongest terms possible that no-one should attempt to follow the instructions.
‘And what they illustrate is a real lack of understanding about both the prevention and the treatment of keloid scars.
‘If you were to attempt a DIY removal of a keloid, you’d merely be running the risk of the keloid returning even larger than before.’
Speaking of how to prevent keloids forming, Mr Batty added: ‘If there’s a history of keloids in your immediate family, you should think twice before having your ears pierced or being tattooed.
‘Likewise, keloid scarring can also be brought on by laser tattoo removal.’
While there’s no cure for keloids, treatment can include specialised gels, silicone tapes, steroid injections and cryotherapy, which uses low temperatures to destroy scar tissue.
Experimental treatments include injections of the anti-cancer drugs 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) or bleomycin, however, these are not routinely available on the NHS.
Keloids are formed due to minor skin damage and can become bigger than the original wound
Experts warn no one should attempt to copy the videos, adding such methods are ‘painful’
They add the approach demonstrates a lack of understanding about how to treat keloids
It is unclear how long it takes keloids to turn an unsightly black and fall off the skin
Up to 10% of people with tattoos are at risk of keloids
This comes after experts warned last month up to 10 per cent of people who have tattoos are at risk of keloids.
WHAT ARE KELOIDS?
Keloids are types of scars that occur when they become larger than the original wound.
This can be due to minor skin damage, such as acne, and can spread out of the original area and persist for many years.
Keloids affect around 11 million people around the world every year.
A tendency to develop keloids can run in families.
They look like exaggerated scars and are raised above the skin.
Keloids are shiny and hairless, and can feel hard and rubbery, as well as domed.
New ones are often red or purple before turning browner as people age.
Most sufferers have just one or two keloids, however, some have many, particularly if they are the result of acne or chickenpox.
Keloids can often not be cured as cutting one out may cause it to be replaced by a larger scar in the same place.
Source: British Skin Foundation
Between five and 10 per cent of Europeans have a family history of such built-up scar tissue, according to The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD).
A BAD spokesperson said: ‘People with risk for getting keloids are advised to avoid skin trauma such as tattooing, body piercing and unnecessary surgical procedures or cosmetic skin surgery, particularly on high-risk areas such as the chest or earlobes.’
Previous research suggests tattoos may cause cancer by leading to swollen lymph nodes that are less able to fight infections.
Past findings also imply one-fifth of adults in the UK have a tattoo, rising to 29 per cent among those aged 16-to-44.
According to Dr Alexandroff, even allergic reactions to temporary henna tattoos can lead to keloids.
He said: ‘Keloid scars are rare but can be very disfiguring. Risk factors include family history, and they’re most common in those aged between 10 and 30 years old.
‘We see it more commonly in young females than young males, probably due to the prevalence of ear piercing.
‘Keloids can affect any part of the body but most commonly upper chest, back and shoulders.
‘Even temporary tattoos are known to cause keloids if patients react to the tattoo.’