Do your scars itch? This post is about why scars itch and how to get some scar itch relief.
Fresh scars tend to itch more often but also older scars, especially surgery scars, may itch. Even scars that are years old can be itchy. Many people describe the feeling as itchy and numb at the same time. In most fresh scars the itchiness will fade away with time.
Scar Itch Causes
The itch is part of the healing (maturation) process. New tissue is created, nerve endings are stimulated, and other nerves have been disconnected which may cause the numb sensation.
The blood circulation is affected and overlapping scar tissue being stretched may also cause itchiness or sometimes a burning feeling. (e.g. in case of c-section scars during a new pregnancy) Some people experience a burning sensation followed by itch after stretching their scar full out.
Causes of scars itching are the aforementioned healing process, the scar drying out, the nerves being damaged and disconnected, collagen reacting and moving, and skin irritation as a result of (surgical) tape or other topical applications used.
Scar Itch Relief
Make sure to avoid scratching your scar whenever possible. It might damage the tissue especially when the scar is young and the tissue still thin and delicate. Damage caused by scratching will worsen scar appearance and may cause infection (which will also worsen appearance).
This is just theorizing but I think whether or not you can treat the itchiness depends on where the itch is exactly located. Is it superficial, on the scar itself, the skin so to say? Or is the itch deeper, probably caused by nerves and/or collagen turning over. If it’s the latter I guess there’s nothing much you can do about it except for maybe massaging.
- Massage A good massage therapist will be able to loosen up the scar tissue thus effectuating less tension and friction. This way the scar tissue is under less physical stress which will lead to less burn or itch. When massaging your own scars keep in mind that fresh scar tissue is relatively thin and fragile so massaging should be done very gently.
- Moisturizing Scars tend to dry out a bit because the skin’s ability to hydrate itself has been affected. That’s why moisturizing the tissue regularly may offer relief by diminishing itch.
- Anti-itch creams I haven’t used any anti-itch creams on my scars myself because I used silicone gel sheets and ointments (more on this in a bit) but here are a few popular creams that are reported to offer scar itch relief. Benadryl is a so called antihistamine cream. Prolonged use of such creams is said to possibly result in the development of an allergy to the active ingredient (Benadryl) Other itch relief creams are topical anesthetics such as lidocaine and benzocaine. These have shown to cause skin irritation in some cases. Therefore the best anti-itch creams are the topical steroids such as hydrocortisone cream. Examples of commonly used and well reviewed hydrocortisone creams are Aveeno 1% Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream and Member’s Mark Hydrocortisone Cream Apart from these there’s a skin spray called ThermaSkin Itch Blocker that uses hot pepper extract (capsaicin) to stop itching.
- Silicones There are several topical silicone gel brands such as Dermatix, Kelocote, Zeraderm, and ScarAway. These silicone ointments do not only offer relief from itch and pain they will also reduce redness, prevent problematic scars from developing, and flatten and soften excessive scar tissue.
For me these silicone creams (and sheets) were a godsend because apart from the occasional itch some of my scars really felt uncomfortably sensitive so each contact with clothing or e.g. a seat belt made me shiver.
Do you have any questions or comments on scar itch relief? Don’t hesitate to share your opinion below.