Long after a scar has healed, it may suddenly begin to itch intensely. Generally this is caused either by an infection or by new cell growth in the area, perhaps due to changes in weight. Options for treating the itch vary based on its cause.
If an old scar begins to feel hot or painful, or becomes puffy and red, chances are good that you have an infection. Because scars penetrate several levels of skin and tissue, it is important to get treatment from a doctor quickly. You may receive a course of antibiotic pills or antibiotic ointment to apply.
Itching Due to Cell Growth
Signs to Look for in an Infected Scar
Large scars, particularly deep surgical scars, typically involve several types of overlapping tissue, which may not stretch or expand at the same pace. A childhood abdominal scar, for example, will have to stretch as a child becomes an adult. That process may cause the scar to itch or burn. Massaging the scar with hypo-allergenic lotion or oil may be enough to loosen up and stretch scar tissues. If this fails to relieve the itching, anti-itch creams like hydrocortisone may resolve the problem. More severe cases of itching may benefit from the use of over the counter lidocaine lotions 1. For stronger topical analgesic cream, your doctor can prescribe a topical 5 percent lidocaine ointment which will numb the effected area 1.
- Large scars, particularly deep surgical scars, typically involve several types of overlapping tissue, which may not stretch or expand at the same pace.
- More severe cases of itching may benefit from the use of over the counter lidocaine lotions 1.
To Get Relief From Old Scar Itching
See a doctor immediately if the scare feels hot, puffy or painful. On rare occasion an old scar may be the site of a new infection. If the scar is cool to the touch and looks healthy topically apply hydrocortisone and use massage to loosen up and reduce scar tissue. If that does not relieve the itch, try an over the counter lotion that contains lidocaine 2. If this doesn't help, go to the doctor an ask for a prescription for a more potent lidocaine ointment.
- See a doctor immediately if the scare feels hot, puffy or painful.
- If the scar is cool to the touch and looks healthy topically apply hydrocortisone and use massage to loosen up and reduce scar tissue.
Signs to Look for in an Infected Scar
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- Kim J, Sung DJ, Lee J. Therapeutic effectiveness of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization for soft tissue injury: mechanisms and practical application.Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation. 2017;13(1):12-22. doi:10.12965/jer.1732824.412.
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- Shin TM, Bordeaux JS. The Role of Massage in Scar Management: A Literature Review.Dermatologic Surgery. 2012;38(3):414-423. doi:10.1111/j.1524-4725.2011.02201.x.
Nancy Fulton is a professional writer with more than 20 years experience writing articles, books, business plans, marketing materials, website content and training products for schools and fortune 500 firms. She has also taught for UCLA and produced multiple films. As a serial entreprenuer she has worked in many industries and with a variety of government agencies.