It’s difficult to have had a wound big enough to cause a scar and get it to heal correctly. Often the first thing that we think about is what can we do to prevent any kind of scar.
But another bad thing about having a scar is that itch! What do you do when your scar is itching so badly but you’re in an important meeting? You don’t want to look like you are scratching for other reasons, like an infectious disease, an STD or lice! But if only you could get one little scratch in that area of the scab, you’ll feel relief… You’ve been there, right?
Why so much scratching and itching?
In the United Kingdom, scientists examined the skin of and around scars in mice and found that the density of four different types of nerve fibers was highest between 14 and 42 days. Three of them fell back down to normal levels by day 84 when a mature scar was seen. However, one type of fiber called the Substance P fiber stayed elevated at twice the normal number of fibers found in normal skin. This led the UK scientists on the hot trail for more explanations of why we itch.
Researchers at the University of Utah also found that there was an increase in substance P nerve fibers – of 177% – in those patients who had burn grafts. The increase correlated with the reports of pain and itching in the patients.
Scientists in China also believe that maybe Substance P is related. Substance P is a neuropeptide produced in the brain and associated with pain sensations. It’s released after an injury from the nerve endings and causes inflammation, the production of the keratinocytes and the synthesis of fibrin. Substance P also is in charge of the process whereby new blood vessels are formed to bring circulation to the wounded area.
One theory of why scars itch is that the substance that regulates Substance P, called neutral endopeptidase or NEP, which breaks down Substance P at the cell membrane level is involved. If NEP levels are depleted, there would be more inflammation than normal, and the excess activity could potentially cause itching.
All this talk about itching in scars can make your own scar itch! It’s funny how when we focus attention on something, we get more of it.
In South Korea at a burn rehabilitation unit at the Red Cross College of Nursing, 18 burn scar survivors were experiencing not only serious itching but also depression about their condition. The nurses brought in massage therapists and both the itching and depression were relieved.
And there’s something else that is known to decrease the pain – silicone sheets or gel. Silicone is effective and safe, as proven in the studies over the years.
What do you do when scars itch?The information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please speak to your doctor to treat any medical condition. Information on this site is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.