What Are Scabs and Why Shouldn’t You Pick at Them?

Band aid

Scabs can be irresistible to pick at, especially when they look so unsightly you just want them to be gone. But this does more harm than good. Scabs are like nature’s Band-Aid, sealing the injury and helping it heal. The healing process is much more efficient when the scab is left intact.  Picking at it reopens the wound, essentially causing the healing process to begin all over again.

Scabs are a dry, rough protective crust that forms over a cut or wound during the healing process. Whenever your skin is broken, blood cells called platelets come together to form a clot at the affected site. The clot’s job is two-fold: it keeps blood from seeping out of the wound and it keeps outside germs and dirt from getting into the wound.  The clot is comprised of blood cells as well as fibrin to bind it all together.

A lot goes on behind the scenes during wound healing.  As the wound begins to heal, both torn skin and damaged blood cells are being repaired. White blood cells go on the offensive by attacking germs that may have invaded. A new layer of skin begins to form from the very start. However, this can take up to two weeks– longer than most people have patience for. The scab should fall off on its own during this time, but if you try to jump start the process by picking it off, you could be taking a step backwards in terms of healing.

Because scabs are busy protecting your body’s sensitive tissues, picking at that wound can expose the wound to infection. You’ll know it’s infected if the area gets red, puffy, and oozes puss. This can pose many more problems than you initially bargained for, and you may have to visit your doctor to get antibiotics. In addition to the possibility of infection, you can cause a scar to form by picking off a scab prematurely.

If you do develop a scar from picking at a scab, it’s important to begin treating it immediately if you hope to minimize it. Scarfade is a silicone gel that has been clinically proven to help improve the appearance of scarring on the skin.

It’s best to let wounds heal naturally and on their own time. Let the damaged cells repair themselves, and the nerves and blood vessels re-attach themselves. Sure, the area may itch, but resist the temptation. You’ll only serve to disrupt the natural repair process, delay healing and expose yourself to an increased possibility of infection and scarring.