What does the presence of eschar indicate and what should I do about it?

Symptom Database

Eschar is a term used to describe a dry, dark, and hard scab or crust that forms over a skin wound. It is often an indication of necrotic tissue, which refers to dead or dying skin cells. The presence of eschar can provide valuable information about the wound and its healing process. In this article, we will explore what the presence of eschar indicates and what steps should be taken for its management and treatment.

Understanding Eschar and its Significance

Eschar is commonly observed in wounds that are deep, severe, or have been left untreated for a prolonged period. It forms as a protective barrier over the wound, preventing further damage and reducing the risk of infection. However, the presence of eschar can also impede the wound healing process by inhibiting the growth of new tissue.

Eschar is typically black, brown, or dark in color, and it may feel hard or leathery to the touch. It is important to note that not all wounds develop eschar, and its presence should be carefully evaluated to determine the appropriate course of action.

Wound Assessment and Management

Examining the Wound

When dealing with a wound that has developed eschar, a thorough assessment is crucial. Carefully examine the wound to determine its size, depth, and any signs of infection. Look for redness, swelling, pus, or an unpleasant odor, as these may indicate a wound infection.

Debridement of Necrotic Tissue

Debridement is a process that involves the removal of necrotic tissue from the wound. It is essential for promoting wound healing and preventing further complications. There are several methods of debridement, including:

  • Surgical debridement: Performed by a healthcare professional using sterile instruments.
  • Enzymatic debridement: Involves the use of topical enzymes to break down necrotic tissue.
  • Mechanical debridement: Utilizes dressings or irrigation to physically remove the eschar.

The choice of debridement method depends on the severity and characteristics of the wound. It is important to consult a healthcare professional for proper assessment and guidance.

Wound Care and Treatment

After debridement, proper wound care is essential for optimal healing. Here are some important steps to follow:

  • Clean the wound gently with mild soap and water or a saline solution.
  • Apply an appropriate wound dressing to protect the wound and promote a moist healing environment.
  • Change the dressing regularly, following healthcare professional’s instructions.
  • Monitor the wound for any signs of infection and seek medical attention if necessary.

It is important to note that wound healing is a complex process that requires time and patience. Following proper wound care practices and seeking professional advice can significantly improve the healing outcome.

Preventing and Managing Wound Infections

Wound infections can significantly delay the healing process and lead to further complications. It is crucial to take preventive measures and promptly address any signs of infection. Here are some tips:

  • Keep the wound clean and dry.
  • Avoid touching the wound with dirty hands.
  • Do not pick or scratch the eschar.
  • Follow healthcare professional’s instructions for wound care.
  • Watch for signs of infection, such as increased pain, redness, swelling, or discharge.
  • If an infection is suspected, seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Remember, early detection and treatment of wound infections can significantly improve the healing process and prevent complications.


The presence of eschar in a skin wound indicates the presence of necrotic tissue. It is important to assess the wound carefully and determine the appropriate course of action. Debridement of necrotic tissue and proper wound care are essential for promoting healing and preventing complications. Additionally, preventing and managing wound infections is crucial for optimal healing outcomes. By following proper wound care practices and seeking professional advice, individuals can effectively manage eschar and facilitate the healing process.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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