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The Science of Scabs

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Scabs - Nature's Band-Aid

Scabs are nature's Band-Aid. They start to form less than 10 seconds after you cut yourself. Chemical proteins react with special blood cells called platelets, which cause the blood to get sticky and clump together. This forms a clot that plugs up the cut to stop the bleeding. Once you've clotted, 16 different chemicals work together to dry out the clot and form a scab. The scab keeps out germs while the cells underneath make new skin.

Scabs - White Blood Cells Chow-Down

White blood cells, which are the cells in charge of fighting off disease, arrive on the scene and chow down on any germs that sneak past the scab, as well as some of your dead blood and skin cells. Yum.

Scabs - That Icky Yellow Stuff

Piles of living and dead germs and cells form pus, which cause some swelling and puffiness around your wound.

Scabs - Don't Pick A Scab!

I know your parents always tell ya this, but they're not just grossed-out by the bloody mess you'll make. If ya pick a scab, you're messing with all the hard work your body is doing to fix itself. If you leave it alone to do its thing, a cool new kind of cell, called a macrophage arrives. They eat all the pus, dead white cells and other debris. Within a week or two, the scab should fall off all by itself.

Scabs - Did U Know?
  • Watch out! Vampire bats have chemicals in their spit that prevent scabs from forming. This makes it easier for them to snack on their victim's blood. So don't get spit on by a vampire bat if you've got an open wound.
  • If you dream about scabs, it could mean that money is coming your way.
  • For a cool scab recipe click here.
  • Related stories:
  • Bone Up on Boogers
  • How Blood Carries Oxygen
  • The Ins and Outs of Burping
  • More Cool Science...
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