Some wounds may not require medical treatments and hence, those are often left alone to heal. Elapsing some healing steps, the skin takes some times to fully recover from any kinds of injuries. During this healing process, you might experience itching, which ranges from light sensation to the very disturbing one. This itching sensation may last for several days, being more severe in a day than another, and may be accompanied by scabs occurring on and around the wound.
How itching occurs
Itching commonly occurs when a wound reaches the phase of granulation or proliferation. Prior to this phase, a wound elapses a couple other phases, which include bleeding and clotting, as the body’s natural way of cleansing a wound; and inflammation, which makes the wound appear to be red, swollen, and warm, as the white blood cells gather to the wound site, trying to fight the infection. In proliferation phase, the wound begins to close or shut. Granule skin cells grow inward to the center of the wound, in order to perform wound closure. Simultaneously, this process causes mechanical stress on the wound site. This mechanical stress activates the sensation of itching, which comes from the reaction of sensitive nerve fibers beneath the skin.
After how long does a healing wound stop itching?
Based on the severity of the wound and other supporting factors, how long you are going to feel the itching with wound healing may vary. As this sensation is triggered by the mechanical stress of wound-closure formation as well as specialized chemicals released during the process, the skin nerve reaction might be different among people with different injuries.
- The granulation phase itself lasts for approximately 3 weeks, although it my definitely vary. During this phase, the skin tissues around the wound site are growing inward. This process may last for days to weeks, based on the depth and severity of the wound, and what treatment is performed for the wound.
- During the phase, new skin tissues are formed to replace the damaged ones. For this, certain chemicals are used for healing the wound and forming the closure. Histamine is the chemical released by the body as a protective barrier for the newly-enclosed wound site. When the body releases these chemicals, itching sensation beneath the skin around the wound site occurs. This may last as long as the chemicals are still released for wound healing.
- The formation of wound closure is often accompanied by the formation of scabs around the wound site. If the scabs are not disturbed, it will come off by itself within three-week proliferation period. However, when you accidentally pick these scabs, the process is going to be restarted. Another skin tissues are formed and simultaneously, chemicals are released, occurring in recurrent itching sensation. This will last for another days or weeks until the wound site is enclosed.
- Excessive growth of skin tissues around the area also triggers itching, which may last for weeks with severe wounds. These excessively grow tissues may form keloids, which may irritate the skin when it rubs against its surface. With less severe or very minor wounds, itching caused by these growth commonly lasts shorter, within only days after the wound site is enclosed.
- How long a wound-healing itching sensation is going to stay also depends on your skin sensitivity. Some people might be more sensitive to histamine and thus, experience longer and more disturbing itching than the others. If you are susceptible for keloids or have a family history regarding this skin disorder, for instance, the itching caused from wound enclosure can last longer even after the wound site has been fully closed. This type of itching is easily triggered by skin rubs against your clothing, and may last for several days to weeks after the wound closure formation is complete.
Itching occurring with minor wounds may not be a problem for your daily activities. However, long-lasting itching sensation occurring with more severe wound sites can be problematic. While it may drive you crazy from being irritating and tingling, this itching should not be your reason to scratch the wound and the area around it. Scratch may cause damages to the new skin cells being formed on the wound site. It may also lead to scarring and increase your risk of infection.
To reduce itching, avoid scratching. Instead, do these things, which can be helpful without causing damages to the skin:
- Wash the wound site gently to remove any dead cells and any left debris, which may contain bacteria infestation.
- Cover the wound site with suitable wound dressing. Moist wound dressing is highly advised, since it gives a proper environment for the new skin cells to grow properly. This will enhance the healing process and minimize scar formation.
- When the itching gets too severe, you can put a cold compress onto the wound site. This will numb the area and thus, reduce the itching sensation.
- If the itching is persistent, or causes distractions to your daily activities, apply topical anti-itch creams around the wound site.