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Anyone who has a deep scrape or similar wound that results in a scar has most likely experienced extreme itchiness and a tight feeling as it heals. Itching around the site of the scar is typically due to normal healing of the tissue, which depending on how deep the wound is, may take more time to heal on the inside layers of tissue than on the outside layer of your skin 3.
How Skin Wounds Heal
Healing is a remarkable and complex process. The initial steps include immediate defenses to restrict the flow of blood to the wound, plates clumping together to essentially "plug" the flow, and then clotting. Your body will then fight off any threat of infection by destroying germs. Of course, you might provide your body with extra help by applying pressure to stop the flow of blood and the using an anti-bacterial medication. The next step is the healing process, which is when the scab and then scar will begin to form.
How Scar Tissue Forms
Scar tissue begins to form around two to four weeks after the initial injury occurs. Scarring forms as the skin essentially stretches under a wound and closes. Scar tissue is initially pretty thin and fragile, but will become stronger with time. It will fade eventually. While your wound may begin looking better after a few weeks, it will take considerably longer for the inside as well as the outer layer skin surface to heal completely.
Scar Healing Times
How long a scar takes to truly heal depends on the person, overall health and age, the type of injury itself and where it is located on the body. Medical intervention can also shorten the healing time. Typically, scars heal more quickly the younger you are, due to having better skin elasticity and better collagen production. The healthier you are, the shorter the healing time on average. Factors like whether you exercise, smoke, drink or have any illnesses or conditions can affect your body's overall ability to heal a wound. Many people will be able to see a scar from an injury for years.
Why Do Scars Itch?
New scars itch because of the tugging of the skin as it tightens to stretch on both sides to essentially create new skin and close the wounded area. Another factor that causes the itching and sometimes tingling sensation is that nerve endings around the scar are being stimulated as part of the healing process 3. The more elastic your skin is, the less itchy the site may be--but not always. The itching may be at its worst during the first few weeks to months as a fresh wound heals and a scar forms 3. The itching will lessen with time 3.
How to Minimize Itching
You should not scratch your scar, although it may be easier said than done. As tempting as it is to scratch an itchy scar area, do whatever you can to avoid doing so. Scratching a scar may break the fragile seal that has formed to cover the wound, and therefore increase the likelihood of an infection. Your fingernails have a host of germs that could easily penetrate into the wound site. Instead, look at anti-itching ointments that are readily available over-the-counter at a pharmacy 3. You may also want to wear clothing over the wound site to minimize opportunities for mindlessly scratching the itch. Consider covering the site with gauze or a bandage to prevent scratching the scar area.
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