Most of us have dealt with blemishes or small cuts on our face that may leave a protective crust, or scab, behind. But, how can you get rid of these scabs on your face?
It can be tricky, since your body uses this layer of dried cells to cover healing tissue. Scabs on your face can itch, bleed, hurt, or just be annoying, but it’s usually best to leave them alone.
This article will take a closer look at the purpose of scabs and what to do to help them go away.
Scabs are your body’s defense against germs, bacteria, and blood loss. They’re also a sign of healing. Scrapes and cuts are common causes of scabs on your body, including your face.
When you scrape yourself or break skin anywhere on your body, platelets begin to stick together to form a clot. This clot prevents blood or other fluids from flowing out of the wound. Once the platelet clot dries out, it’ll harden to form a scab.
Scabs are meant to protect the wound from germs and other harmful bacteria while the wound is healing. Sometimes scabs can take more than a few weeks to completely heal. In some cases, they may leave behind a scar.
Facial scabs can have many different causes. Some of the most common causes include:
- allergic reactions
- cold sores
- dry skin
- insect bites
- autoimmune disorders
- bacterial infection
- chicken pox
- chemical injuries from skincare products
- surgery and cosmetic procedures
What does a scab feel like?
You probably know what a scab looks like. It’s usually dry, crusty, and maybe a little brown or red. But how are they supposed to feel?
As tissue heals and regenerates under the scab, it’s normal to have symptoms like:
- itchiness at the affected area
- tingling sensation
Scabs will heal on their own, but they may take more than a few weeks to clear up completely. Here are some tips to speed up scab and wound healing on your face.
Maintain proper hygiene
Keeping your scab clean at all times is important. This will help prevent further irritation or infection.
If you must touch your scab, be sure to wash your hands before doing so. Avoid scrubbing or scratching your wound. These actions can prolong your healing time and increase the risk of scarring.
You should also wash your face — including the area where the scab has formed — gently but regularly with mild cleanser and water.
Don’t scrub or rub at the scab. Gently applying facial toners or using witch hazel can also help clean and soothe your skin and the scabbed area.
A dry wound slows down the healing process. Keep your scab moisturized to speed up your recovery and prevent accompanying symptoms, such as itching and tingling. Consider applying petroleum jelly daily to maintain moisture.
Other products that can help soothe and moisturize the scabbed area — and the rest of your skin, too — include
Avoid using masks that must be scrubbed or peeled off, as they could pull the healing scab away and reopen the wound.
Don’t pick your scabs
As tempting as it may be, avoid picking or scratching your scabs. Scratching at your wound can interrupt the natural healing process and prolong your recovery. This can also cause infection, inflammation, and scarring.
If your scab itches, consider using a damp or dry washcloth to dab at the affected area. Be gentle, and don’t scrub your scab. It could trigger bleeding, irritation, or other uncomfortable symptoms.
Apply antibiotic creams
Topical ointments or creams can ease itchiness and painful symptoms, and help speed your recovery. Common over-the-counter (OTC) ointments, such as Neosporin, can be applied to the affected area. Apply only a thin layer of the ointment to your scab.
OTC ointments or creams containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid contain antibacterial properties that can aid the healing process. They can help exfoliate or remove dead cells as the wound heals, too.
Topical antibiotic ointments that contain ingredients like neomycin, polymyxin B, or bacitracin usually aren’t necessary to help scabs heal, and aren’t thought to speed up the healing process.
However, if your wound becomes infected or more irritated, an antibiotic ointment may help.
Use a warm or cold compress
Proper healing involves skin regeneration. Applying a warm compress to your wound may trigger skin regeneration and blood flow. These properties can speed up the healing process while also providing relief from itchiness.
A warm compress can also help add moisture to the wound site.
While warm compresses can help speed up healing and moisturize your skin, a cold compress can also be gently applied to the wound to help combat itching and inflammation.
Scarring is a common concern of scabs, specifically on your face. Protecting your scab from direct sunlight can help prevent scarring and speed up healing.
In addition to moisturizing a facial scab, apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to prevent scarring.
How long it takes a scab to heal can vary from person to person. Your immune system and overall skin health play a role in how quickly you heal.
Healing time also depends on the size and depth of the wound that the scab is covering. On average, it can take a week or more for scabs on your face or anywhere else to heal.
Anytime your skin is damaged or wounded, there’s a chance you might develop a scar. Scars are simply a fibrous tissue rich with collagen that covers a healed wound.
In time, scars may shrink in size or change color, but the overall appearance and size of a scar depend on how well your wound heals.
Although you can take steps to reduce the risk of facial scabs, it’s not possible to completely prevent them. Most of us develop pimples from time to time, and there’s always the risk of getting bitten by an insect, developing a cold sore, or getting accidentally scratched.
However, keeping your skin clean and hydrated, wearing sunscreen regularly, and not picking at pimples or spots can help reduce the likelihood of developing wounds or sores that form scabs.
Scabs are a sign of healing. They’re also your body’s first line of defense against bacteria and debris.
However, they can take days or weeks to completely heal on their own. Some scabs may require antibiotics or home remedies to help them heal properly.
If you develop symptoms like swelling, increased redness, or other signs of infection from a facial scab, talk with your doctor. They can help find the right treatment to ensure your facial scab heals as quickly as possible.