You might not be happy about the appearance of a scab on your lip. But it might bother you less if you know that the scab works like a bandage, protecting the skin underneath.

A scab is your body’s way of healing from an injury. When your skin is broken, your body reacts to stop the bleeding and keep out debris and germs.

Blood cells called platelets clump at the site of the wound. They form a blood clot to slow or stop the bleeding. As the clot dries out and gets hard and crusty, a scab forms.

Your scab should typically fall off in a couple of weeks, revealing the new skin that has grown underneath it.

Here are some tips to help the healing process and maybe speed it up:

Keep the scab clean

Proper hygiene can help you avoid irritation or infection. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t touch your scab. If touching can’t be avoided, wash your hands first.
  • Don’t scrub your scab. Gentle cleansing will suffice.
  • Don’t use a harsh soap. Use a mild, non-foaming cleanser.

Moisturize it

Moisturize your scab to promote fast healing and reduce itching.

Consider applying petroleum jelly. You most likely don’t need an antibacterial ointment, since you’re washing the area and the scab itself serves as protection from infection.

Apply a warm compress

Apply a warm compress to help maintain moisture, increase blood flow, and encourage skin regeneration. If your scab itches, a warm compress might also provide some welcome relief.

Use sunscreen

While you’re applying sunscreen to your face, don’t forget to use it on the scab on your lip. A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher can help prevent scarring.

Don’t pick at it

When you were a kid and adults told you not to pick your scabs, they were right. Picking at a scab can prolong the healing process. It can also result in infection, inflammation, and potential scarring.

You shouldn’t be concerned if there’s a small amount of swelling or pinkish-red skin around your scab. These are common signs of healing. You should, however, watch for the following signs of infection:

  • a fever, with no other explanation
  • redness and swelling which increases over a period of days
  • red streaks extending from the scab
  • a scab that’s painful to the touch
  • a scab that feels hot
  • a scab that’s oozing pus
  • a scab that bleeds when touched
  • a scab that isn’t healing after 10 days
  • a scab that has a yellow and crusty area surrounding it

If you think that your scab has become infected, see a doctor or healthcare professional.

There are a number of potential causes of a scab on a lip, including:

A scab on your lip is a sign that your body is doing its job. It’s protecting an area of damaged skin from dirt, debris, and bacteria.

Taking care of the scab on your lip with washing, moisturizing, and other steps can hasten healing.

A scab will commonly fall off in a couple of weeks — revealing the new skin underneath — but keep an eye out for infection. If you think you might have an infection, seek medical help.