How do I treat an itchy incision?

Keeping an incision lubricated can reduce itching.

The main goal of caring for an incision after surgery is to prevent infection so that the wound can heal properly. It is normal and healthy for itching to occur during the healing process, but it can be an extremely uncomfortable and upsetting sensation. There are several things a person can do to help relieve an itchy incision, including keeping the area clean and the skin well hydrated and using over-the-counter or over-the-counter medications.

It is common for incisions to itch as they heal.

There are two main reasons why a healing wound can be itchy. One is the growth of new nerve cells at the site, because it is the nerve cells that allow the skin to feel sensations such as pain and itching. The second is that histamines are released locally in response to the growth of new cells, and these chemicals also cause uncomfortable sensations on the skin. While itching is a sign of healing, everyone experiences wound healing differently, so it’s not necessarily a cause for alarm if the onset of this symptom is delayed.

Fighting Skin Dryness

An incision wound is also known as a surgical wound.

Dry skin is often irritated and can make itching worse. Keeping your skin well hydrated is one way to help reduce the tingling sensations caused by the growth of new skin cells. If surgery is scheduled, it may be helpful to apply moisturizer to the proposed surgery site daily for a week or two beforehand so that the skin has a little extra moisture while it is covered by the bandage. After surgery, the moisturizing cream can be used after the dressing is removed, as long as the wound is closed. Consult a medical professional familiar with your case before using any new product on the incision and, if possible, use a cream that he or she has approved or recommended.

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Most incisions are covered with a sterile dressing for one to two weeks after surgery.

After surgery, most wounds are kept covered for one to two weeks. After the stitches, staples or adhesive strips are removed from the incision and it has been checked by a medical professional, it is safe to soak the area in water. Regularly washing the area with mild soap and warm water will remove dead or crusted skin and help keep it clean. Removing old layers of skin promotes healing and keeping the incision free of irritants such as dust and dead skin helps reduce itchiness. However, soap tends to increase dryness, so it’s important to apply a doctor-approved moisturizing lotion after each wash.

Cool Compresses

Stitches are commonly used to close surgical incisions.

After the bandage is removed, applying a cold compress to an itchy incision can help relieve mild discomfort. A compress can be a clean towel or other thick tissue wrapped in ice, or an item such as a bag of frozen vegetables. Frozen items should never be placed directly on the skin, as a compress that is too cold can damage the sensitive skin at the wound site. Each application should last a maximum of 20 minutes, with a 20-minute break between sessions.

avoiding irritation

Taking care of an incision from the start helps to minimize future problems, but a healthy wound is almost always itchy to some degree. It can be tempting to scratch or rub the spot, but touching it too much can cause inflammation and more uncomfortable sensations. Scratching, in particular, increases the risk that infection could develop at or around the incision site, especially if the skin is broken.

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It is also important to avoid movements that place undue stress on the incision site, and movements involving this area should be as gentle as possible. While it’s a good idea to avoid touching the incision too often, it’s very helpful to examine it regularly. A daily inspection while washing or caring for the incision makes it easier to detect changes that could signify infection or inadequate healing.


Many people find they need over-the-counter medications to combat the uncomfortable sensations they experience. Since the incision can be fully submerged in water, it is generally acceptable to apply anti-itch cream to the area around the incision. As there are several types of creams, including anesthetics, antihistamines, and steroids, it is best to ask a medical specialist which type is right for you. This is particularly important for anyone with sensitive skin, as some of these skin creams can cause dermatitis in susceptible people.

When to get professional help

If an incision becomes overwhelmingly itchy to the point where over-the-counter preparations aren’t relieving the discomfort, a medical professional might be able to help by prescribing a stronger cream. Itching that’s getting steadily worse over time, rather than better, can indicate an infection or a problem with the stitches, if you have them. Other changes at the site, such as inflammation, increasing pain or tenderness, redness, an unpleasant odor, and heat, are also signs of possible infection. It’s important to get prompt medical attention if any of these develop, even if the symptoms seem mild, as even minimal signs of infection can delay or prevent a wound healing.

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