Why Do Wounds Itch When They Are Healing?

For most people, cuts and small wounds are not a serious health problem because modern medicine and normal healthy bodies make the repairs in a matter of days or a few weeks. In time, our skin returns almost 100 percent to its normal appearance and we are none the worse for wear.

But during the time it takes the wound to heal we usually experience uncomfortable itching and even some slight pain. These sensations are an important part of the healing process. The cuts and other wounds we experience in life are naturally cleaned by bleeding. Bleeding is caused by the breaking and tearing of blood vessels but it stops rather quickly so that the wound can begin to heal.

A scab begins to form shortly after the bleeding stops. Scabs are hard areas of blood and skin that form to protect the open area. At this point the skin and blood vessels begin the regeneration process. Eventually the dead skin and dried blood of the scab will fall off, revealing pink, new skin underneath.

Understanding this process is important if we want to understand why wounds itch when they are healing. The itching and mild discomfort of the healing process generally lasts about two weeks. During this time we may be tempted to scratch and touch the wounded area because it itches. All of the ideas and theories about itching wounds focus on a natural product of the body called histamines. This chemical process kicks in when the body is cut or otherwise wounded. Generally, open wounds will be accompanied by harmful bacteria. Histamines usually trigger a sort of allergic reaction that is widely believed to the source of the itch.

Medical research and scientific theory also note that cuts and open wounds not only damage the skin and blood vessels but also affect the nerves. The body feels the new growth. This is experienced as an itch and as a small increase in body heat at the wounded area.

Most of the academic and medical theories stop short of being able to completely identify the source of itch. One idea states that the chemicals present at the wound site are dealing with small parasites or washing away the histamines.

To help us understand the itching that comes with the natural healing process we should also know a little more about how to stop the itching temporarily. Over the centuries doctors and chemical research specialists have tried dozens of different kinds of lotions, potions, creams and pastes to stop the itch during the healing process.

Many of these contain antibiotics that keep the area from becoming infected. They also contain various natural and man-made ingredients that reduce the itching sensation for a short time. Chemical ingredients such as hydrocortisone and natural ingredients like aloe vera can help cool the wounded spot and reduce the annoying itch that follows every wound, large and small. While this is an uncomfortable feeling, rest assured that the itch is probably a sign that the wound is healing well.

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