ZocdocAnswersIs it okay to pick a scab or will it give me a scar?

Question

Is it okay to pick a scab or will it give me a scar?

Got a cut on my knee and the scab is really itchy. I picked it off but now I?m worried that I?ll get an ugly scar. Does picking a scab result in a scar or does it not matter when it comes to healing skin?

Answer

You definitely should not pick at any scabs that form over cuts or scrapes on your skin. A scab is your body's way of telling you that the cut has not totally healed. When you pick away the scab, what you are doing is exposing all of the new, delicate skin cells that are forming underneath before they are ready. This tends to disrupt the process of the skin cells coming together to form a smooth new layer of skin. It can lead to bleeding and delayed healing and it definitely increases the risk that you will have a larger scar. In the future, it is better not to pick off the scab. If you have some itching, you can apply some vaseline or some thick antimicrobial ointment to the scab to help keep it moist, which should keep the itching down. Eventually, when it is time, the scab will fall off on its own without any need for you to remove it. The skin under the scab will still be tender and may appear to be a different color than the surrounding skin, but this will gradually improve with time. Please talk to your primary care doctor to get more information.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.