Scabs are a natural part of the body’s healing process when wounds are left uncovered. If you’ve ever had a wound, big or small, you’ve probably had a scab!
In this article, we look at what a scab is, how they heal and how you can care for them, to help make your healing process even better.
What Is a Scab?
Scabs are a natural crust made of dried blood clots , usually forming over a scrape or cut. They’re a common part of the body’s healing process, designed to protect your wound from further blood loss and infection1. If a wound starts to scab over, it usually means your wound is healing and your body is protecting it. However, while scabs are natural, they can make the healing process more difficult than the ‘clean, treat, protect’ method.
How Do Scabs Form?
When you get a wound that bleeds, the platelets in your blood will clump together to form a clot1. These blood clots start to dry out, creating a scab to protect the delicate tissue underneath1.
How Long Do Scabs Take to Form?
Scabs usually start to form pretty quickly after a wound appears1. In most cases, blood will begin to clot in a matter of seconds to reduce blood loss1. Deeper wounds, however, will take longer to scab over than more shallow, minor injuries2.
How Do Scabs Form on the Scalp?
Many different skin conditions, including psoriasis, can cause scabs to form on your scalp3. They may also form as part of a reaction to hair treatments, shampoos and hair dyes3.
How Do Scabs Form in the Nose?
The skin on the inside of our noses is incredibly delicate and can become injured in several ways4, including from:
Allergies – which may lead to excessive sneezing or blocked airwaves
Trauma – such as a hard bump to the nose or nostrils
Certain medications – which may cause a reaction or nosebleed
Underlying medical conditions4 – such as sinusitis, which may cause swelling
Frequent cleaning could also cause damage to the delicate lining of your nose, and also end up disrupting the natural healing process4.
How to Heal a Scab
When it comes to knowing how to get rid of a scab, the critical thing to remember is not to try and pick at them or rush the healing process.
Trying to get rid of a scab fast could increase your risk of scarring or infection2.
That said, there are some useful things you can do to try and help a scab heal properly.
Keep the Scab Clean
Keeping your wound clean with warm water and a gentle soap, or an antiseptic wash, may help reduce your risk of infection2.
Use an Antibiotic Ointment
This can help to keep your scabs moisturized and prevent them drying out. NEOSPORIN® Antibiotic Ointment offers 24-hour infection protection, adding an extra layer of defense for your wounds.
Keep the Scab Covered
Covering your wound with a sterile bandage or other dressing can help protect your injury from infection or further damage. BAND-AID® Brand products are available to help and can be easily applied.
Do Not Pick a Scab
Picking or removing them before they’re ready to drop off can interfere with the healing process2. Avoid picking at or scratching the scab as much as you can2.
How Long Does it Take for a Scab to Heal?
Once the skin underneath your scab has healed, the scab will fall off by itself. The deeper and more severe your wound, the longer this will take. Most minor injuries should heal within a couple of weeks2, with some only taking a matter of days.
What Will My Skin Look Like When My Scab Falls Off?
When your scab falls off, the new skin may look red, shiny and stretched2. As the skin ages, however, it should start to look more like the rest of your skin. If it doesn’t, it may form what we know as a ‘scar’2.
Do All Wounds Scab Over?
No. Not all wounds bleed, so not all wounds scab2. For example, burns, certain puncture wounds and pressure sores don’t tend to bleed and so are less likely to scab over2.
How Do Scabs Help Wounds Heal?
Scabs provide a layer of protection for your wounds to stop them becoming infected, which would delay or even halt the healing process2.