An Itch You Shouldn’t Scratch…

Nobody likes getting injured. For someone living with Type-1 Diabetes, having a cut or scratch on the outside of the body can present a unique set of challenges. Especially if you develop a scab. Everyone dislikes scabs; they’re ugly, they blemish the skin and they usually itch like freakin’ crazy! This is what usually brings people to scratch the shit out their scabs, even pick them off. And speaking from experience, there’s nothing quite like that satisfying feeling of ripping off a scaly scab, revealing the fresh, pink new flesh beneath. But there are some very good reasons why you shouldn’t. And if you know anything about me, you should know that this is where I’ll talk about a bunch of it… Buckle up!

First and foremost, let’s discuss what a scab actually is. A scab is the body’s way of protecting a wound in order to allow the body to heal properly. It usually forms as a red or brownish crust and works to keep germs and other nasty shit out of your wound while the body rebuilds the skin underneath. Most people hate scabs because of how they look and feel. But the reality is that they do a lot to help with the healing process, which is interrupted when they’re scratched off.

According to a post from on dermatillomania, (a completely separate subject) “Scabs might not seem important, but they play a crucial role in protecting wounds against infections. Beneath the scab, your body is repairing damaged skin and blood vessels. […] When you pick off a scab, you leave the wound underneath it vulnerable to also increase the amount of time it’ll take for the wound to completely heal.Repeatedly picking off scabs can also result in long time scarring.”

Considering people with Type-1 Diabetes have difficulty healing from wounds due to circulatory problems and neurological issues, there’s no need to add to the pile by constantly picking off one’s scabs. We already have this tendency to be prone to infection when we get injured. The last thing one needs is to make it worse. Injuries that happen to be somewhere where the flesh flexes and moves during daily use are even worse, as scabs will have a tendency NOT to set or will break open and bleed, making the healing process take all that much longer and increase the risk of infection.

Another post by explains that scabs tend to itch because sensitive nerves beneath the skin are stimulated by the healing process. The scab itself will also cause itchiness, which can be a real pain in the ass. The article goers on to explain that if a wound hasn’t healed within a month, you should consult your doctor. I’l add that if the scab starts to develop an angry, red ring around it and becomes painful, hot or sensitive to the touch, you should seek medical help immediately.

I’ve had a number of injuries throughout the course of my life; some of which have left me with scars. But it’s most important NOT to scratch this itch as it can lead to complications that are simply not worth it. And should you happen to scratch off a scab, bear in mind that you’ve just eliminated your body’s natural bandage so you’ll need to replace it. Keep the wound moist (yes, I said “moist,” let’s move on!) and apply a sterile bandage with an antibiotic cream or salve to help replace what you just compulsively scratched off. Food for thought… ☯️

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I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

2 thoughts on “An Itch You Shouldn’t Scratch…”

  1. This will sound strange, but this article speaks so much to me. I feel that this applies to both physical and emotional wounds. If we don’t give emotional scabs the time they need as part of the healing process, we’ll never get better. If we keep picking at it, we’ll never move on from “healing” to “healed”. Lovely, informative article.


    1. I hadn’t thought of that side of it, but you make a really good point. More than ever, it’s been proven that emotional and mental wounds have as much of an effect on a person as a physical one and exposes them to the same potential traumas if not healed properly. Great insight, thanks for reading!


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