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The best way to heal a scab often depends on the scab and the wound it’s covering, but there are some general tips most people can follow. Keeping the wound and scab clean and covered helps promote scab healing. Regularly applying antibiotic ointment can also help heal a scab as well as prevent infection. It’s important to learn to identify and treat infected scabs to avoid further infection. Avoiding scratching or picking a scab can prevent infection and scarring.
The process to heal a scab begins as soon as the wound is acquired. The wounded person should immediately clean the area with soap and warm water until no traces of dirt remain, and then apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment. A wound should be patted dry, with the person taking care not to cause further injury. Once the wound is clean and dry, it should be bandaged. The bandage should be changed each time it becomes wet or dirty, and each time the person applies fresh antibiotic ointment.
Some people believe the best way to heal a scab is to give it time to “breathe,” meaning to give it time unbandaged and exposed to air. Oftentimes, this depends on the wound and type of scab. Small wounds with minimal scabbing might not need to be constantly covered. Larger wounds with significant scabbing might benefit from continuous coverage, as they take longer to heal and are at a higher risk of becoming damaged. Regardless of how often a person keeps his scab bandaged, most experts agree that keeping it moist can help heal a scab.
As a person is trying to heal a scab, he might notice the scab changes color. Generally, a yellow scab or a brown scab is normal and not indicative of an infection, but scab color isn’t always a clear indicator of an infection. Regardless of the scab’s color, the wound might be infected if it becomes unusually painful, starts discharging pus, is warm to the touch, or develops red streaks in and around the scab. Sometimes, the infection can be treated by applying over-the-counter antibiotic ointment three times a day, or as often as the instructions specify. Other times, medical attention might be necessary.
It’s important to understand that by following the steps to properly heal a scab, a person also can prevent scarring. For example, treating a scab as soon as possible after acquiring the wound can help prevent or minimize scarring. Scabs tend to itch, but it’s best never to scratch or pick a scab. Doing so can slow the process of scab healing, cause further damage to the skin, and bring about scarring. Too, reopening the scab can put the wound at risk for becoming infected.