How to get rid of acne scabs

How to get rid of acne scabs

25 Jun 2023
Stefano Mirabello Medical Reviewer
Pharmacist / B.Pharm
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as popping a pimple. When you know you shouldn’t do it, it just feels so good! But it’s the worst thing you can do. Especially if you’ve got acne. If you fall into temptation and you do pop and pick, your pimples can bleed and become unsightly scabs. It can happen to the best of us. And if it’s happened to you, there are things you can do to help. Here we explain how to get rid of scabs on your face and how to heal scabs on your face from picking your pimples.

What causes facial scabbing?

Scabs might not look too appealing, but they’re a good thing. Scabbing is your body’s natural way of stopping bleeding and helping you heal. And this includes scabs on the face.

When you have a cut, or when you pop or pick at a pimple and you bleed, your blood goes through a chemical change when it meets the air outside your body. Molecules in your blood called platelets would break apart and then stick together. Helped by other substances in your blood, like vitamin K and calcium, this forms a hardened clot called a scab. The scab stops your bleeding and protects your body from infections that could enter through the wound.

How to get rid of acne scabs?

First off, try and resist picking at your scabs. It can be as tempting to pry at your scabs as it is to pop your pimples, but pulling your scabs off can make matters much worse. Scabs are part of your body’s natural healing process. If you disrupt it by picking at them, you can slow your skin’s healing, introduce infections into your skin, and increase the risk of scars forming.

So, other than picking at them, how do you get rid of acne scabs on your face?

The reality is you have to let your body do its thing and allow your scabs to heal naturally. This can take days to weeks as it’s not something that happens overnight. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t a host of actions you can take to help the healing process along and to reduce the chance of any complications.

How to look after your acne scabs?

So, how can you make acne scabs heal faster? Try the following to help your body heal and naturally get rid of your scabs:

Keep your scabs clean

Keep the skin around your scabs clean and free of dirt and oil to reduce the chances of them getting infected. You can try using a mild face wash or antibacterial wipes.

Keep your skin moisturised

Skin can become tender and irritated around scabs, particularly if you have acne and dry skin from acne treatments. Your skin may fair better, and you may be less tempted to pick at itchy scabs if your skin is properly moisturized. Try a gentle moisturizer. Products that contain aloe vera or tea tree oil may also help the healing process along.

Try a warm compress

A warm compress, either wet or dry (think a face towel that’s been soaked in warm water or heated in a microwave) can do a surprising amount of good. The warmth can help increase the flow of blood through your skin, which can speed up healing. It can feel great too, which can distract from any itching. A wet, warm compress can also help with keeping your skin moisturized too.

Use sunscreen

Protecting skin from strong sunlight can help your scabs clear up faster and can reduce the chances of them leaving scars. You can keep yourself out of the strong sun, but wearing sunscreen even on overcast days can help give you day-round protection.

Apply an antibiotic cream

Topical antibiotic treatments you apply directly to affected skin can kill unwanted bacteria, aiding healing and lowering the risk of infections. These creams will require a prescription for you to purchase them.

Use an acne treatment

Treating the acne that led you to pick your pimples can stop you from getting more scabs, but some acne treatments may even help your skin heal faster. Products that contain retinoids (types of vitamin A) can promote faster healing during skin cell regeneration by speeding up the process. You can buy some acne treatments that contain retinoids over the counter, but many of the stronger retinoid treatments are prescription only.

Try Tretinoin

Tretinoin is a prescription retinoid. It can kill bacteria, reduce inflammation in your skin, and can promote faster healing. Tretinoin is a scientifically proven skincare treatment that can fight acne and help your skin heal. It is also sold under the brand Retin A.

How long does it take for a scab to heal on your face?

This can vary by person. Small scabs usually heal within three to seven days, whilst larger ones can take up to two weeks to heal, sometimes longer. Your scabs may heal faster if you keep the affected skin clean, don’t pick at your scabs, and use products like antibacterial, antibiotic, and retinoid topical creams and gels.

Scabs may not look too appealing, but they’re an important part of the body’s natural healing process. You need to let a scab run its course and clear up naturally. Although, with the above tips, you can help ensure this happens as quickly as possible and without any complications.

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