Ever notice a dark, rough patch on your face after popping a pimple or getting a cut? It’s most likely a scab. It’s a protective “crust” or tissue that forms over a wound during healing.

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 your wound. Once the platelet clot dries out, it’ll harden to form a scab.

Scabs, particularly on your face, are meant to protect the wound from germs and other harmful bacteria while also allowing time for healing.

Sometimes scabs can take more than a few weeks to completely heal. In some cases, they may leave behind a scar.

Scabs can be paired with other symptoms, including:

  • itchiness at the affected area
  • pain
  • wound discharge
  • bleeding
  • tingling sensation

Scabs are your body’s defense against germs, bacteria, and blood loss. They’re also a sign of healing. While scrapes and cuts are common causes of scabs on the body, they may also contribute to scabs on the face.

Other potential causes of facial scabs include:

Scabs will heal on their own, but they may take more than a few weeks to completely do so. Here are some tips to speed scab and wound healing on your face:

Maintain proper hygiene

Keeping your scab clean at all times is important. This preventive measure will help avoid 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 trigger scarring.

Moisturize

A dry wound slows down the healing process. Keep your scab moisturized to speed your recovery and prevent accompanying symptoms, such as itching and tingling. Consider applying petroleum jelly daily to maintain moisture.

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, redness, or other uncomfortable symptoms.

Apply antibiotic creams

Topical ointments or creams can alleviate itchiness, painful symptoms, and 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 also contain antibacterial properties that can aid the healing process.

Use a warm compress

Proper healing involves skin regeneration. Applying a warm compress to your wound may trigger skin regeneration and blood flow. These properties can speed your healing process while also providing relief from itchiness. A warm compress can also help maintain healthy moisture to your wound site.

Apply sunscreen

Scarring is a common concern of scabs, specifically on your face. However, protecting your scab in direct sunlight has been known to prevent scarring and speed healing to help scars fade.

In addition to moisturizing your scab, apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to prevent scarring.

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 to weeks to completely heal on their own. Some scabs may require antibiotics or home remedies to help them heal, too.

If you begin to experience worsening symptoms from your facial scab or have questions on the healing process, call your doctor. They can help find the right treatment for you.