Wound healing; should I pick that scab?

To all the kids that have tripped and fallen on the playground, I feel you guys…

On a more serious note, scrapes and scratches are almost inevitable to a human being. Likewise, at a recent volleyball practice, I scraped my knee quite badly. I didn’t feel much at first, but after showering I realized the pain. In addition, growing up, I’ve always been a clumsy kid, and my mom would always tell me to keep my hands off my scabs. I’ve always wanted to know if it was worth waiting for the scab to heal. So, for this blog, I will finally find the verdict…

A scab on a wounded knee (C) ALEF7
CC BY-SA 3.0

What is a scab?

A scab is a layer of protection formed over cuts and scrapes. Furthermore, scabs are usually dark red or brown, with a crusty texture. Their main job is to keep germs that may infect the skin cells out while healing the cells.

What goes on under the scab?

On the surface, a scab may look gross, but there is so much that goes on down there! It all starts with platelets; sticky, and small blood cells that immediately clot to prevent any extra bleeding. Then, your immune system deploys white blood cells to fight off harmful germs that may have intruded at this time. Consequently, a thread-like protein known called fibrin starts to weave a structure throughout the clot. The fibrin strands entangle with the platelet cells forming a sponge-like substance that eventually dries and turns into a scab.

Fibrin and platelets- where they come from

Platelet cell – SCIEPRO

Platelets are produced by your bone marrow. However, once platelets enter your bloodstream they can only live for 8-10 days before being replaced by newly produced platelets. Fibrin originates from fibrinogen; a soluble protein that is produced by the liver.

Are you going to pick that scab?

There hasn’t been any groundbreaking research that proved picking scabs wrong. BUT, the usual healing time for a scab is 1-2 weeks. Which isn’t that long if you think about it. Not to mention, breaking the scab will end up making the heal time longer, and may even leave a scar. I for one will definitely not be scratching my scabs anymore…

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