When a pierced earlobe develops a hard lump that seems to be spreading and swelling, it is probably a keloid. This type of scar forms when the skin overcompensates during the healing process to produce excess scar tissue. When the skin is injured, cells called fibroblasts are activated to produce skin tissue (primarily collagen) to fill in the hole. Normally, the body signals when to stop the healing process. Sometimes, however, the signal malfunctions and collagen production continues, which causes the scar to thicken. Keloids most often form in people with darker skin. And, they can develop in response to practically any trauma to the skin. Steroid injections or compression may help control keloid growth. Generally, it does not help to have keloids surgically removed because they tend to recur after excision.
If you are prone to making keloids when you scar, you should use extra care to avoid damage to your skin that can lead to scar production. One way to minimize keloids is to avail yourself of professional help sooner than later when your skin is in trouble; prompt care can make a difference.