Why do Scratches Swell Up?

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Swelling is the reaction of the body in which the tissues affected by a certain stimulus, such as injury or infection, enlarge in size abnormally. Swelling is caused by the accumulation of fluid in the affected tissues. Swelling is a symptom of the inflammation of the skin and often makes it appear red and enlarged.

Type of Swelling

In the case of scratches and bruises, a particular area of the skin swells up. This is referred to as localized swelling. This kind of swelling is normal in healthy people. However, generalized swelling, involving enlargement of tissues throughout the body is a sign of an illness.

An acute swelling occurs within 24 hours of the exposure to the stimulus, while chronic swelling occurs over a long period of time repeatedly.

Swelling as a result of scratches could either be caused by the injury itself or the wound getting infected. The swelling caused by the wound is known as traumatic swelling and it appears almost immediately after the injury, while that caused by an infection is known as inflammatory swelling. A congenital swelling is one that is present since birth or appears as cysts later in life.

Causes of Swelling in Scratches

The common traumatic swelling is simply the response to the injury that the local tissues have suffered. The main cause of swelling is the increase of the circulation of white blood cells and other body fluids to the point of injury. The compression of nerves at the area suffering the trauma is another reason for this reaction.

The symptoms caused by swelling are the body’s way of telling you to prevent the part from further injury. The swelling could also possibly be caused due to the fact that the body may not be circulating fluid properly, especially if it occurs at the ankle.

Protecting and elevating the injured body part, resting, applying ice packs and compressing with ace wraps are common treatments to reduce the swelling.

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