Itching, or pruritus, is often a sign that a wound is healing. It can be a very uncomfortable feeling. Although the exact mechanism by which nerve fibres send a message to the brain causing itching is not known, it is speculated that histamine and other inflammatory mediators released during the healing process play a role.
If you’ve ever had a cut or scrape, you know how frustrating the itching can be while it heals. Itching is a sensation that, despite its apparent insignificance, can be very distracting and get in the way of going about your day.
Why do wounds itch and how to alleviate the itch are topics we’ll cover here.
1. First, Let’s Define What We Mean by “Itch”
Skin tingling or needle-like sensations are examples of itching. Insect bites, allergies, and skin diseases like eczema are a few of the things that might cause it. Itching is a typical sign of wound healing, particularly when it comes to open wounds.
To cure the wound and close the cut, numerous actions must be taken. Inflammation is one of these processes, and it results in swelling, redness, and warmth to the touch in the vicinity of the wound. The body is sending nutrients and blood to the injured area to aid in the healing process, and this inflammation is an indication of that.
The formation of scabs is a further stage of the healing process. A scab, which grows over the wound to keep it clean and shield it from germs and other hazardous elements, is a protective covering. New skin cells are forming and preparing the injured tissue underneath the scab.
The factors at play are listed below.
1.1 Histamine Release:
When you get hurt, your immune system kicks in to protect the area and help it heal. Histamine, a substance that causes an inflammatory reaction, is one of the ways your body reacts. Itching, along with redness, swelling, and other symptoms, is all brought on by histamine.
1.2 Nerve Irritation/ Activation:
Nerve irritation is another factor in itching from wounds. The nerves in the injured area may become more sensitive as a result of the wound, which may cause them to transmit messages to your brain that cause you to feel itchy.
1.3 Scar Formation:
Scars, which develop when wounds heal, can itch, especially in regions that are frequently moved, such as the elbows or knees. The texture and colour of scar tissue may differ from the nearby skin.
While the majority of scars disappear with time, some may need medical attention to lessen their symptoms or improve their appearance.
1.4 New Skin Growth:
It may feel uncomfortable or tight while the skin heals because new cells spread and stretch to cover the wound. Itching could be perceived by the brain as this sensation, which would be more uncomfortable.
By preventing itching and maintaining moisture in the area, good wound care can reduce discomfort and hasten to heal. Being patient is essential during the healing process to prevent more problems.
A dry, itchy atmosphere can develop as the scab dries over the wound. If the wound is in an area where it is likely to become wet or irritated by clothing, the situation may worsen.
In some cases, itching around a wound can be a sign of infection. when the body detects the presence of bacteria or other harmful substances, it may release chemicals that can cause itching as part of the immune response. Other signs of infection may include redness, swelling, and pus.
2. 4 Remedies for Wound ‘Itch’
2.1 Keep the Wound Clean:
Keeping the wound free from infection and clean is one of the greatest strategies to stop itching. The release of histamine and other substances that can cause itching will be less likely as a result. After gently cleaning the area around the wound with soap and water, make sure to dry it completely.
2.2 Apply a Cold Compress :
Applying an ice compress to the irritated area for 10 to 15 minutes will help reduce irritation. Ice cubes should be wrapped in a towel. The sensation of itching will diminish thanks to the cold temperature’s ability to numb the nerve endings.
To avoid damaging the skin, avoid applying ice directly to it. To stop itching, repeat as often as necessary throughout the day.
2.3 Use a Topical Anti-itch Cream:
Wound itch is treatable with a variety of topical creams and ointments available without a prescription. Consider using a product that contains hydrocortisone or pramoxine, both of which have anti-inflammatory and soothing effects on the skin.
2.4 Keep the Skin Moisturized:
It is important to keep the skin around wounds wet to avoid worsening the itch, as dry and irritated skin can exacerbate it. Using a fragrance-free, lightweight moisturizer can help calm irritated skin by restoring its natural moisture balance.
It is important to take care of the skin around wounds to promote healing and prevent other concerns, such as infections.
3. Why do Wounds Itch? The Healing Process
3.1 Avoid Scratching :
Scratching a wound that’s already itchy won’t speed up the healing process and may even make the itch worse. Putting off the itching for a while by doing something else, like reading or listening to music, may help.
3.2 There are Four Phases of Wound Healing, Briefly Summarised
3.2.1 Bleeding Stage
The process by which lymphatic fluid is quickly created to form a clot that stops bleeding and seals a wound is known as hemostasis, sometimes known as the bleeding stage. Platelets initiate the clotting process by adhering to the damaged blood vessel walls and secreting substances that attract other platelets to the location.
When coagulation factors convert fibrinogen into fibrin, the clot is subsequently produced. The hemostasis phase is essential for wound healing and limiting excessive blood loss.
3.2.2 Defensive Stage
Even for minor injuries, the defensive stage, also known as the inflammatory stage, can last up to a week. To guard against a potential wound infection, which could cause swelling and inflammatory symptoms, the body sends white blood cells to the area.
You can naturally lessen any discomfort or pain if this is an uncomfortable or painful situation.
3.2.3 Proliferative Stage
Tissue and blood vessels start to regenerate during the proliferative stage, which is sometimes referred to as the granulation stage. It can last for up to a month and may include visible signs of healing, such as scabs that hide the underneath-developing new skin cells.
3.2.4 Rebuilding Stage
The maturation stage, also known as the scarring stage or the rebuilding stage, might extend for years, depending on how severe the wound was. On the contrary, with a little scraping, this is the phase of healing where the scab falls off, and the newly formed tissue begins to become flexible.
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4. Indications for Medical Attention
Excessive itching is a common symptom of wound healing complications. Wounds that haven’t healed properly due to necrotic tissue, infection, or excess fluid buildup will itch more and take longer to heal.
If you have any of the following issues, or if you suspect your wound isn’t healing properly, you should see a doctor.
- Drainage from the site is yellow, thick, cloudy, or odorous, and the temperature is at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Increased pain or redness, a change in sensation (such as numbness or tingling) at the site; an opening in the incision before the stitches are removed.
The immune system’s release of histamine, the development of new skin cells and nerve endings, inadequate wound care, infection, and allergies can all cause wounds to itch. Itching happens because histamine causes inflammation and more blood to flow to the area.
Even though minor itching is often a normal part of the healing process, itching that lasts for a long time or is very bad should be checked out by a doctor to avoid more problems.
You can reduce itching and speed up healing by taking good care of wounds, not scratching them, and taking over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines.
Q1. What does a scab contain?
Platelets, white blood cells, and other blood cells of various types are all contained within a scab, along with fibrin (a protein that helps stop blood flow). Blood clots form when platelets clump together, and white blood cells destroy potentially infective bacteria in an open wound.
If you pick at a wound that is still healing, you may undo the progress that has been made and set the healing process back to square one.
Q2. Exactly why does a wound that has been stitched hurt?
Itching can happen when stitches are healing, just like when you get a small cut or scrape. This is because the wound is getting closer to being fully healthy. Itchiness can last anywhere from a few hours to several months, possibly even until the stitches are removed.
Even though it might be tempting to scratch the wound, doing so will keep it from healing properly.
Q3. Explain why scratching an itch only makes it worse.
In some cases, the itch will become more severe if scratched because of the molecule serotonin. This neurotransmitter is made by the brain and released into the bloodstream. It helps keep your mood stable.
Getting rid of the irritating substance gives temporary relief from the itch, but serotonin does not stop the itch from coming back and may even make it worse.As an Amazon Associate, Icy Health earns from qualifying purchases.