If you've ever wondered how scabs form, it is important to first understand what it is and why it happens. Scabs is an unattractive name for an unseemly body function that, however, serves an important purpose. When we fall, scrape or otherwise injure our bodies in a way that causes bleeding, it is the formation of scabs that promotes healing and keeps wounds from becoming infected.
Scabs form to create a barrier on the skin that serve a dual purpose when there is a cut or other injury that causes bleeding. The hard, reddish or brown formation keeps bacteria and other contaminants from entering the body from the outside, while inside white blood cells attack any that may have breached the wound prior to the formation of the clot and subsequent scab. In addition to attacking germs, the white blood cells work at removing dead skin and dead blood cells that were caused by the injury. As the cut heals, the scab will eventually fall off, exposing the new skin beneath.
So how exactly do scabs form? When the body is injured and bleeding, it begins a process of protecting itself from invading bacteria and blood loss. In the blood there are irregularly shaped and colorless blood cells called Platelets.
These Platelets are a sticky substance, and when a wound occurs they in combination with fibrinogen, a substance that consists of mineral calcium, protein and vitamin K, gathers at the bleeding site and adheres to the injured area. When the fibrinogen and platelets come into contact with air, they begin breaking apart and form into a thread-like substance called fibrin. This fibrin acts as a glue-like bandage of sorts to trap the blood and form a clot. When that clot begins to dry it forms what is referred to as a scab.
With a basic understanding of how scabs form and their purpose, it's easy to see the importance that they serve in the healthy healing of cuts and other bleeding injuries. The body is an amazing thing and in an otherwise healthy person it will always aid in the protection and healing of itself.
- Never pick or peel scabs off of a wound. This may tear or expose the healing flesh beneath and reopen the cut. In some cases picking a scab can cause scarring to occur.