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Scabs are protective crusts of dried blood clots that form over wounds. Scabs on the face can occur because the face has a cut or scrape. They can also form on the face as a result of acne, an allergic reaction, or another illness.
Scabbing is a natural reaction. It allows the body to protect itself from viruses and bacteria that may enter through an open wound.
Scabs can take a week or more to heal, and in some cases, they may leave a scar.
Scabs may be itchy and, in some cases, painful. Also, a scab may produce discharge, bleed, or cause a tingling sensation.
It is best to avoid scratching scabs open, as this can lead to more bleeding, increase the chance of infection, and may increase the likelihood that a scar will remain after the wound itself has healed.
Scabs on the face can form for many different reasons.
Scabs are most commonly the result of cuts or scrapes a person gets on their face. However, scabs may form on the face for other potential reasons.
Pimples and other forms of acne are another reason scabs may form on the face. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne affects 50 million people per year in the United States.
Scabs may appear on a person’s face for many potential reasons:
- popped pimples, which may scab over
- dry skin that causes cracking
- cold sores, particularly around the lips and mouth
- autoimmune disorders
- bacterial infections
- allergic reactions
- nonmelanoma skin cancer, which can form lesions and patches that look like scabs
Most scabs, especially small ones, will heal with no intervention. The body is self-healing when it comes to scrapes and cuts.
Some scabs, however, may take longer than a few weeks to go away. A person may wish to speed the process up if this is the case.
People can try some of the following treatment methods to help with the healing process:
Avoid scratching or picking the scab
Scratching or picking at a scab can be tempting. Scabs can be itchy or painful, which can make someone want to pick or scratch at it. However, people should avoid doing this.
If a person picks a scab open, it can lead to viral or bacterial infection and will delay the healing process.
Use oil-free moisturizer
Moisturizing the scab can help keep the healing process moving. In addition, a moistened scab is less likely to be itchy or painful, which can help a person avoid scratching or picking at it.
Many oil-free moisturizers are available to purchase online.
Keep it clean
Another way to help ensure the wound heals is to keep the scab and surrounding skin clean and free of debris. People can do this in the morning and evening, or any time of the day that a person can wash their face.
Also, a person should avoid touching their scab or letting others touch it. If contact is necessary, a person should wash their hands before and after touching the scab.
Sun can be damaging to skin, so applying sunscreen before going outside is best practice. For people with scabs on their face, applying sunscreen can also help prevent scarring.
Another benefit, as with moisturizer, is that sunscreen can help keep the scab moist and aid in the healing process.
Use a warm compress
Using a warm, damp compress can help stimulate blood flow to the scab and surrounding area. The increased blood flow around the site can help the body speed its healing process and recovery.
A warm compress can also help keep the scab moist.
Use antibiotic creams
Antibiotic creams are available over the counter. The medication present in these creams can help scabs heal faster.
They can also help alleviate pain and itching from the scab. A person can apply a thin layer of antibiotic cream over the scab daily with clean, dry fingers or a cotton swab.
It is not always possible to prevent scabs from forming on the face.
A person should take proper precautions when working with materials that may come into contact with their face that could cause a cut or scrape.
People with acne or those who have a lot of pimples on their face should avoid picking at their acne or popping their pimples.
A person with cold sores should use preventive medication to help avoid outbreaks. Similarly, any person with an autoimmune or other condition should follow their treatment plan and medications to prevent flare-ups of their symptoms.
Also, people should take steps to protect their face from excessive dryness and sun. People can do this with moisturizers, sunscreen, and hats with visors.
Scabs on the face are usually the result of a cut or scrape. People with other medical conditions may experience scabbing on their face as a result.
In either case, the scabs should heal on their own within a few weeks. Those who want to speed up the healing process or prevent scars can try home treatments.
Finally, a person can typically prevent scabs on their face by using precautionary measures such as wearing suitable protection and treating any underlying causes that may cause scabbing to occur.