Should you pick at your scabs?

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This is a tricky question, and the best answer probably to prevent the scab from ever forming. That applies to whether you’re dealing with an incision or whether this is a traumatic cut or abrasion.

Let’s talk about what a scab is first. It’s a protective layer of crust made up of blood and platelets that help stop the bleeding in that area. As that area dries a scab forms, and that scab has helped to form a protective layer of the underlying area as it heals, so it protects it from infection.

Why would you want to prevent that? In facial plastics when there is an incision I don’t like scabs because they tend to burrow between the two edges of the fresh skin and can widen the scar. When I think about scabs I just see widening scars even when it comes to traumatic cuts.

I think there’s a better way to treat those areas and that’s by hydration. I love applying antibiotic ointment to the affected areas pretty liberally. Things like Neosporin, Bacitracin, or Bactroban are perfect. These products help to stop the bleeding and prevent crusting from forming by keeping them wet. That prevents the scab from widening the scar. Apply ointment several times a day and keep it really sloppy wet. That’ll make sure it heals as good as it can.

If you already have a scab it’s best not to pick it but instead check with your physician. If you pull off the scab you might tear off the skin underneath or even cause bleeding, but you can still hydrate the scab by putting ointment on top of it. That’ll make it come off quicker.

Once the incision or traumatic cut isn’t raw or scabbing anymore, don’t use the antibiotic anymore. Ask your physician about what other topical products you can use like sunblocks or topical scar guards like Maderma or silicone sheets. Sunblocks help by preventing hyper pigmentation by the sun exposure in a healing wound, while the scar guards help to hydrate the scar while encouraging scar remodeling and softening. I hope that helps, but if you have any other questions about healing or you have a poorly healed scar, e-mail us directly at, or visit our website at