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Why Do Surgical Scars Itch?

Updated July 19, 2017

Surgical scars are a common side effect after undergoing invasive surgery. As well as sometimes damaging a person's self-confidence and making them feel unhappy, surgical scars can also itch for a long time after the surgery. This is a natural aspect of scarring and should not be a cause for alarm.

Scabbing

Scars are a part of the healing process. When a cut is made in the skin during surgery the blood that is exposed in the wound clots, which forms a scab over the wound.

Healing

Underneath this cover, collagen fibers in the skin spread across the wound, reconstructing the skin. Sensations of itching may begin at this point. Once the scab falls off the new skin underneath will be red and raised. However, this does not mean that the wound is entirely healed.

Scars

Once the scab has gone, the red and raised skin becomes a surgical scar, a raised section of skin that may or may not be discolored. Underneath the scar the healing process is still going on, causing an itching sensation, and may take years to completely heal, depending on factors such as the person, the location of the scar and the severity of the cut.

Itchiness

Most people experience sensations of itchiness while surgical cuts are healing. This is because the nerve endings around the cut are being triggered as it heals. Because the itching sensation is being caused beneath the skin, treatment may be difficult.

Considerations

Moisturizer can help to cool an itch. However, in the case of surgical scars this may not necessarily be successful, due to the deepness of the itch in the skin. If you have an unmanageable itch that persists consistently for over a week, you should talk to your doctor.

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About the Author

Alexander Kennard started writing in 2003. He has written music reviews and articles for "The Reflector" at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada, and has been published on antigonishreview.com. He has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Victoria.