Scratch Marks On Skin While Sleeping

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scratch marks on skin while sleeping

You are likely to be a cause of scratch marks on skin while sleeping. It might be as a result of your long fingernails, pet or someone you sleep with. If the scratch marks do not fade away easily but cause you pain, consult your doctor.

Waking Up To See Scratch Marks On Your Skin: What To Do 

Have you seen yourself waking up with scratches? Just know you are not the only one in this. There are many things that can cause you to see scratches or even unexplained scratch marks on your skin.
One of the major explanation to this is that you accidentally scratch your skin while you were sleeping. This can also result because of a skin condition and rashes. Some of these skin conditions appear the same way as to scratch marks.

What to Know on Seeing Scratch Marks on Skin While Sleeping

You scratch yourself unknowingly while sleeping if the scratch marks you see on your body was made by your nails. Scratches you made without your idea usually occur on body parts you reach easily.

Some of the body parts are:

  • Face
  • Shoulders
  • Chest

You will easily scratch yourself when you have an itchy skin condition. This will likely leave red lines on your body. It is important to know that not all itching while sleeping are self-made. It can an unusual nervous system behaviour.

You are at greater risk if your nails are long while scratching yourself in your sleep. The good news is that there is no permanent damage on your skin from most of the surface-level scratches.

Scratches from another person or pet

You can get a scratch while sleeping from someone you share your bed with. This is also possible if you share your bed with your pet such as a cat and dog. In some cases, the scratches you see when you wake up happened during the day and you could not notice then. Scratches done from your pets especially your cat can lead you into having a disease.

A cat can cause cat scratch fever which will lead to the following:

  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Fever
  • Blistering
  • Dermatographia or skin writing

In some cases, scratches are mistaken with some skin conditions because they look alike. People who suffer from skin writing have a frequent phenomenon.
Over 3% of the population are affecting with this condition will easily have their skin becoming red from a light scratch.
They will also have their skin raised which will disappear before 30 minutes or more.

Flagellate erythema Skin condition

This skin condition has close resemblance with scratch marks. It is a rash that accompanies chemotherapy. It can also be caused when you eat Shiitake mushrooms.

Rashes gotten from this skin condition will:

  • In most cases appear on your back.
  • Very itchy
  • Look just like scratch marks
scratch marks on skin while sleeping
Scratch marks on skin while sleeping.


A rash is often mistaken with many skin conditions depending on their shape. Rashes usually occur when there is skin contact with an allergen. It can also come by ingesting certain medications.
If after sleeping you experience itchy marks, it is likely going to be a rash.
This is because rashes are itchy.

Paranormal causes

There are claims that an unexpected rash is a sign of paranormal activity. However, there is no scientific research done that supports it.

Waking up to see deep or severe scratches

There are a few explanations for waking up to see deep or severe scratches. Normal scratching or dermatographia will not leave your skin with deep or scratch marks that last long. Most skin rashes, on the other hand, will not look like a deep scratch.

The severe scratch marks that you see when you wake up can result from the following:

  • Injuries got when you were sleepwalking 
  • Deep scratching from your pet
  • Intense itchiness especially from one skin condition or the other.
  • Long fingernails

Treatment of Unexpected Scratches

The treatment given to scratches you know nothing about depends on what caused it. To prevent unexplained scratches, you should:

  • Wear gloves that are soft to sleep and cut your long sharp nails. If after doing this and you stop seeing the scratch marks after sleeping, it means you were the one scratching yourself. That is if you don’t share your bed with a pet or another person.
  • Consult a sleep specialist if you are always scratching yourself while sleeping. The doctor will a potential parasomnia diagnose on you.
  • Try to reorganize your sleep environment. This helps in stopping accidental scratches.

Determining how severe a scratch can be 

If the scratch marks you see when you wake up fade away quickly without you doing anything, it is likely a result of light scratching or Dermatographia.

There is no cause for alarm as this case do may not need any treatment.

However, consult a dermatologist if the scratch marks:

  • Is bleeding
  • Takes time to heal
  • Itch
  • Look infected
  • Hurt

These signs listed above may be as a result of a skin condition.


The scratches you see on your chest, shoulder and face when you wake up are mostly caused by self-scratching as you sleep.

The scratch marks may look like bite marks on your arm legs. You may also experience intense itchiness during the night if you have a skin condition.

Always consult your doctor if the scratch marks are painful, irritating or itching for immediate treatment.

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