A scar develops as part of the normal wound healing process.  Within 2-3 days of the skin’s surface being injured, scar tissue fills in the injured area to close the wound.  Scar tissue can continue to develop over many weeks or months.  The amount of scar that develops is dependent on the severity of the injury/surgery, the location of the wound, skin type and slow healing wounds. Scar tissue can become sensitive or painful however….. then what?!

Sometimes the feeling that occurs when you touch a scar is enough to make you feel sick, or it could be that the look of it or feel of it makes you feel a bit funny.  Scar tissue can affect people in different ways.  We often see people come to see us for scars that are sore to touch, or feel very sensitive – which can affect people’s ability to wear clothing over a scar, or get on with everyday tasks, particularly if the scar is in a prominent spot like the hand or wrist.

The reason this happens is because nerves can be damaged during the incident that caused the scar in the first place, and they need time to re-grow and develop and learn what ‘normal’ feels like.  Whilst they are learning this, tiny nerves around a scar may think that cotton wool is particularly painful to touch.  In these instances, we need to start retraining the nerves that are giving off these unpleasant reactions.  In hand therapy, we call this desensitisation, which involves providing people with a individual home program to help get the nerves used to feeling different things…. This is where the rice comes in.  We use a variety of textures such as rice, cotton wool, and Velcro over the scar to assist it to develop normally.  We try to use everyday items that you would also have at home – scar management does not need to be expensive. 

In the desensitisation program we also use massage, and vibration to help settle unruly nerves down.  It is absolutely possible to get good results by applying a desensitisation program to a sensitive or painful scar three times a day, for as little as 5 minutes each time.  One of the most important aspects of any program is to start small and gently build up to things.  If you have a sensitive scar, start by rubbing it gently with some cotton wool each day… and as it gets used to that, build up to other textures. 

If you have any questions about a sensitive scar that you might have, drop us a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can help you out.