What is an Itchy Scar? and How do you prevent itching?

Scars are natural outcomes of healing that remind us of injuries or surgeries. While they are a testament to the body’s resilience, the accompanying itchiness can cause discomfort.

In scar removal surgery, managing itchy scars becomes crucial to ensure a smooth and comfortable recovery.

This article delves into the phenomenon of itchy spots, explores the reasons behind scar itching, and provides valuable insights on preventing discomfort after scar removal surgery.

What is an Itchy Scar?

It is expected to experience itchiness in a healing scar as the body responds to trauma, like surgery or injury, by initiating a complex repair process.

The heightened activity of nerves in and around the scar tissue contributes to these itching sensations during the healing phase. While a certain degree of itchiness is expected, prolonged or excessive itching may signal potential challenges in the healing process.

Itchy scar in a women's neck

Is it Normal for Scars to Itch?

It’s entirely normal for scars to become an itchy scar as they undergo the healing process. This itching sensation indicates that the nerves within the scar tissue are re-establishing connections and gaining increased sensitivity.
However, the intensity of itchiness can vary, influenced by factors such as the type and location of the scar, individual skin characteristics, and the unique dynamics of the healing process.

Why Does Skin Itch When Healing?

When a wound occurs, the body initiates the healing process, beginning with hemostasis to stop bleeding. Medical intervention, such as stitches or staples, may be required. Subsequently, inflammation sets in, causing swelling and redness.
Histamine is released, contributing to scar itchiness by activating nerve fibres, signaling an itch. The proliferation phase follows, involving rapid cell multiplication around the wound.

As cells unite and contract to close the wound, mechanical stress activates nerves, leading to the sensation of tightness and itchiness in the scar.

Does Scratching Slow Down Healing in an Itchy Scar?

Scratching may offer temporary relief from itchiness, but it can adversely impact the healing process. Excessive scratching can disturb the fragile equilibrium of healing tissue, resulting in prolonged inflammation, heightened scarring, and an increased risk of infection.

It is essential to refrain from scratching, as succumbing to this urge can hinder the body’s innate healing mechanisms and jeopardize the outcomes of scar removal surgery.

Reasons why scars can become itchy:

New scars:

Skin injuries, such as acne blemishes, stretch marks, cuts, and scrapes, can form new scars. When the skin is injured, nerve endings may also be damaged, becoming sensitive during the healing process. This heightened sensitivity can cause the itchy scar case as the nerve endings recover.

Old scars:

Old scars, defined as being at least two years old, can itch for various reasons. Tightness in the skin, particularly common after skin burns, often leads to increased itchiness. Additionally, sudden changes in weight or skin conditions, as well as dry skin, may contribute to heightened itchiness in old scars.

After surgery:

Surgical scars, deeper than regular skin injuries, commonly induce itchiness during healing. As the skin undergoes recovery after surgery, the itchiness tends to manifest.

What are the Treatment Options for Itchy Scars?

There are two primary methods for scar treatment, outlined as follows:

Non-invasive Treatment

Silicone Sheeting Bandages
Silicone sheeting bandages, readily available at local drugstores, can serve as both an adhesive and a covering for the affected area. They offer a convenient solution for scar management.

Moisturising Creams or Oils
Applying moisturising agents like vitamin E oil, cocoa butter, or coconut oil can improve the appearance of older scars. While these products won’t altogether remove the spots, they contribute to healing by providing moisture.

Massaging the scar during application helps soften and flatten it. Additionally, sunscreen on the scarred area is essential to prevent darkening compared to the surrounding skin.

It’s important to note that vitamin E oil may impact the healing of new scars, so its use should be considered carefully. Overall, these products help prevent skin dryness and reduce itching.

Special Compression Bandages
Special compression bandages, obtainable from your doctor or local pharmacy, function by applying consistent pressure to the scar, preventing it from hardening. These bandages are designed to maintain ongoing compression on the scarred area for optimal effectiveness.

Using onion-based ointments.
Ointments like Mederma are commonly applied to reduce scar visibility, requiring consistent, long-term usage over several months for noticeable effects.

Recent research in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery raises doubts about the high effectiveness of these ointments in scar treatment. Despite their widespread use, evidence regarding their efficacy still needs to be conclusive.

Invasive Treatment

Laser Therapy
Doctors employ laser therapy to enhance healing by intentionally damaging or burning the underlying layers of skin beneath scars. This procedure aims to stimulate a healing response and promote improved skin regeneration.

Intralesional Corticosteroid Injections
Your physician administers a corticosteroid injection directly into the lesion, providing a targeted approach to reducing inflammatory effects.

Radiation Therapy
In cases of raised scars or keloids, radiation therapy may be recommended by your doctor, typically as a final option when alternative treatments prove ineffective. However, the use of radiation is approached cautiously due to its significant associated side effects. It is considered a last resort for scars that have not shown improvement with other treatment modalities.

Surgical Excision
Surgical excision involves a doctor performing a procedure to diminish or enhance the aesthetic of a scar. This undertaking carries inherent risks, leading doctors to exercise caution and limit recommendations.
Surgical removal of a scar is suggested only when there is a belief that it can effectively improve its appearance without exacerbating it.

The process entails the application of freezing chemicals to the scar tissue, causing its destruction and potentially diminishing its visibility. Following cryosurgery, doctors may complement the treatment with injections of steroids or other medications like 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) cream or bleomycin.

Scar Removal Surgery Recovery
The journey to recovery after scar removal surgery demands patience, careful attention, and strict adherence to the provided post-operative care guidelines.

A comprehensive comprehension of the elements influencing scar itching and implementing proactive measures to mitigate it empowers individuals to optimise their healing process.

Steps for Prevention

  • Keep the Injured skin clean and wash with lukewarm water and mild soap to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Maintain Moist Skin by Applying Ointments
    To prevent prolonged healing and increased itchiness due to scabbing during skin recovery, it is advised to maintain moist skin by applying petroleum jelly with clean hands or gauze. While antibacterial ointments are available, they are often unnecessary if the area is kept clean.
  • Using Silicone Gel or Hydrogel Sheets
    Using silicone gel to relieve itching from injuries helps maintain skin moisture, especially for itchy wounds. If there’s no improvement or discomfort persists, consulting a doctor is recommended after trying these remedies.

Consult Prof Dr. Robert Hierner for itchy scar treatment and Scar Removal in Dubai

Prof. Dr. Robert Hierner stands out as a highly acclaimed Plastic Surgeon in Dubai, boasting over 30 years of expertise gained from prestigious global institutions.

With a stellar international reputation, he specialises in Plastic, Aesthetic, and Reconstructive Surgery, demonstrating proficiency in complex operations encompassing aesthetic and interdisciplinary reconstructive procedures.

Notably, Prof. Hierner is a leading expert in multidisciplinary scar management and is recognised as a pioneer in the holistic approach to scar removal treatment in Dubai.


Book an appointment now.

Prof Dr. Robert Hierner