Can ghosts scratch you? Question answered

Can ghosts and demons scratch you or leave marks on your skin? You hear these scary phenomena on TV shows and in paranormal forums. But is there any truth to the claims?

It is believed ghosts and demons can scratch or leave marks on your skin. There is no conclusive scientific evidence, though. Scratches can also be caused by natural causes like allergies, skin irritations, bumping into objects, etc. The most known type is the trinity mark, with three lines.

Spirits or entities might lash out to make themselves known. In some cases, they want to scare you to weaken your guard. Let’s take a closer look at the phenomena.

Scratches and marks

Frustrated ghosts and demons might lash out and leave a scratch mark on your skin. The lines show up without any apparent physical reason. The marks are seldom profound; they are often situated on the skin’s surface. The scratches do not bleed much but might hurt quite a bit. It is important to remember, though, there is no conclusive proof of this phenomenon. In recent days there has been an uptick in occurrences in TV shows and pop culture overall.

Three major groups of wounds can appear Scratches, bruises, and bite marks. Scratches seem to be the most common type of wound-induced by spirits or entities (Cal-Para Paranormal Research OrganizationOpens in a new tab.). In this article, we take a closer look at scratches.

It has been common in paranormal TV shows to feature these attacks. They are often referred to as “demonic” and evil on the spot. I want to stress that there is no proof of this being the case. As TV shows often want us to stay interested, the word “demonic” is used more frequently. If you look back through the years, there have never been as many demonic attacks captured on film.

Human spirits and scratches

Distressed or angry ghosts of human origin are also thought to cause scratch marks. The same goes for poltergeist activity. It is thought that poltergeist activity is driven by strong emotions or telekinetic abilities among the living. So all markings are not demonic.

With all this said, the best thing we can do when trying to understand the nature and cause of scratches and marks is to take a step back. We just don’t know why and what is causing the scratches and marks to appear with certainty.

There is a possibility that the marks and scratches are made by human-origin sprits. The bottled-up frustration or anger might lead to this phenomenon. They might want our attention, and some might not even know they are dead. So when you hear about scratches and marks, leave your mind open to other causes.

It is thought that human spirits don’t possess the power to create scratches, but they can move objects and close doors. I rest my case.

In the video below, a paranormal investigator is getting scratched by an entity or ghost. You can see the three lines running across his lower back. He describes the experience as a burning sensation more than a “clawing” one. He is uncertain if the entity or spirit wants to hurt him or make it known. If you wish to look at the actual scratching, start watching at the 15-minute mark.

Ghost hunters are getting scratched in this video at 8:14 min and 15:57. You can see the “trinity” type of scratchings.

Natural causes to scratches

Other causes of marks on the skin are reactions in the skin from natural causes. Stress (and fear) might cause rashes that can be mistaken for scratches. The same goes for allergens and allergic reactions. Many sites for ghost hunting are very unclean, moldy, dusty, and just plain filthy. If you are sensitive, you can quickly get all kinds of skin reactions.

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Allergic reactions
  • Accidents walking around the site
  • Old scratches
  • Fake scratches

The sites are often very untidy too. It is easy to get hurt and bruised when walking around in the darkness. If you sit down on a chair or sofa, you can get hurt by a spring. The possibilities are endless. I don’t want to debunk scratches, but I think it is healthy to keep an open mind to their causes. In that way, we can learn what the cause is and not just jump to conclusions out of fear of the unknown. It is easy to label things we don’t understand as evil – we often jump to the worst scenarios first.

The trinity scratchings or marks

The “trinity” mark is three defined scratches on the body that appear suddenly. These marks are often referred to as demonic. The marks often have a burning sensation and disappear quite quickly without any scarring.

We don’t know if demons have three claws if they mock the trinity or if it is another cause for this to happen. Some say they represent destruction and chaos. It can also be a sight of the unholy trinity; Satan, antichrist, and the unholy spirit.

Psychics say demons can take many forms. Demons are said to be shape-shifters that can look like humans, animals, or something in between. There is no consensus regarding them having three claws or alike. One common feature is that they often don’t cast shadows, even manifesting in a “fleshy” way.

You often see this kind of mark in paranormal TV shows. I can’t find specific information about this kind of scratches in my reference books and books on demonology. The books often refer to foul smells, changes of voice, sudden drops of temperature, flies, or changes of facial features when it comes to demonic attacks. I have not seen the three scratches as a significator of a demonic attack. With this said, of course, it can be. I don’t own all the books out there.

There are so many uncertainties when it comes to the paranormal field. However, I choose to keep an open mind and not label it too fast. I don’t think it is professional to jump to the worst conclusions right away. This is not helpful for the owner of the property or site.

Creepy facts: 7 ways a ghost can hurt you

Learn more about the dangers of ghosts and spirits

Swirly marks

This kind of mark is thought to be demonic. Many believe the pattern represents a portal where negative entities can enter and leave the Earthly realm. But, as always, there is no proof of this. It is always great to keep an open mind. Another possibility is that they represent confusion and the un- and subconscious mind.

The swirl as a sign is very old. You find the way back in history. As demons and earth spirits are ancient they can have another iconography than we know of today. The swirl scratch can also be just a coincidence as with all scratches.

I don’t hear about the swirly marks as much as the trinity scratchings. But if you are a paranormal TV show enthusiast, I bet you have seen them there.

Devil’s mark

The Devil’s mark also called the “witches mark,” is a permanent mark on the skin to show a pact with Satan. The Devil himself makes the mark by clawing, using a hot iron, or licking the subject. The mark was done as an initiation rite during the Black Sabbath. The mark was red or blue and did not always leave a scar. (The Encyclopedia of Demon and Demonology, Rosemary Ellen Guiley).

The Devil’s mark is different from the trinity mark made to scare and disrupt. The trinity mark is not permanent as the Devil’s mark. In some cases, the Devil’s mark is believed to be invisible. This was very “convenient” during the witch trials.

The Devil’s mark appears when full possession is accomplished. The trinity mark can happen anytime during infestation, oppression, or possession.

The witch trails

The origin of the Devil’s mark is from the Inquisition. The mark was proof you were a witch, and you were sentenced to pay the ultimate price. The Devil’s mark was a significant part of the witch trials.

The marks are said to be red or blue and can appear everywhere on the body. According to Nicholas Remy, the Devil’s mark could be found in the brows, on the left shoulder, hips, breasts, under the hair, and the back (Demonolatry, Nicolas Remy, 1595).

The Devil’s mark can appear in strange hidden places of the body; behind the eyelids, for example. This was very convenient for the judges – they could always refer to an invisible mark. The ruling was not easily contested.

Are scratches or marks dangerous?

Not all scratches must be demonic or dangerous. We know very little of the phenomena. In pop culture, the occurrence of scratches has spiked lately. Almost everyone jumps to the conclusion that it is evil. The truth is that we just don’t know. But one thing we do know is that people tend to love watching scary demons on TV…

There are incidences where the demonic seem to be the cause – but not in all cases. There can be an angry spirit lashing out in frustration as well. Not all humans are kind and loving in life, and they are prone to continue their path of negativity in death.

It might also be natural causes – bumping into an object, allergies, skin rashes, anxiety and fear irritating the skin, etc. Without deep and thorough investigations, it is tough to tell the true origin of marks.

Why you get scratched by entities or ghosts

We are not sure why ghosts and entities scratch and leave marks on the skin. There might be natural causes to the phenomena that we don’t know of. It is always a good idea to keep an open mind. If we lock ourselves into an idea, we might miss the evidence pointing elsewhere.

Demonic attacks

One theory is that marks and scratches are due to demonic attacks. The demon wants to scare you and make you weaker. A demon wants to take away your free will and make you run their evil deeds on earth.

In paranormal TV shows, we often see this occurring nowadays. In the literature on demonic activity and demonology, scratchings are not one of the most common signs of attacks.

The demon is thought to lash out in a show of force. I can’t get my head around why they don’t scratch deeper or do more serious harm (as they are capable of it). If they stay at scratching, I’m thrilled, don’t get me wrong here. I can’t understand why that is all.

Ghostly scratches and marks

Spirits are also thought to be able to leave marks on the skin. As there are angry and frustrated ghosts, I can understand this might take place. As most scratchings are not that deep, I guess that they have the power to cause them. They can slam doors and move lighter objects as well.

Spirits might be frustrated with you and your presence or want to make themselves known. The scratchings might appear out of frustration they are not getting the attention they want. It is possible they don’t even know they are causing the harm they do – or they are fully aware. They get our full attention, though, so it might be a great way to reach out.

Best cause of action if you get scratches

If you think your scratches are due to a hostile entity, it is a great idea to reach out to a professional in the field. It is always best to stop negative entities at the start. The more control they get over you and your home, the harder it is to get rid of them.

There are many ways you can get rid of ghosts and demons. If you are not under full possession, you might not need as intrusive and forceful rites as exorcisms. So don’t freak out. A psychic or a clergy might be able to help you get the spirit or negative entity to leave with home blessings, spirit releasement rituals, or cleansing.

Don’t freak out! Scratches can be caused of other things than demonic attacks.

Ghosts can be very scary and disruptive too, but they will not try to possess you as demons do. With that said, ghostly activity can be draining and exhausting in the long run. Therefore it is also a great idea to get a professional to help you out.

Remember, never jump to the worst conclusions at once. In most cases, the activity is not demonic in nature. Intelligent hauntings are not that common either. If you want to learn more about different types of hauntings, read the article below.

Why ghosts haunt: The most common reasons

Learn more about why ghosts haunt


Yes, ghosts can scratch you! And demons too! As well as your ghost hunting friend (jokes aside). But there might be natural causes to the scratchings and marks as well. There is no definite evidence of what causes scratchings and marks as of today. There are many theories and ideas, though.

The most common scratches are the trinity scratching. The lines are not that deep and they seldom bleed. The mark burns and it disappears quite fast.

Due to the uptick of the phenomena in TV shows, I recommend having an open mind. I don’t say they are tricksters, but don’t jump to the worst conclusions right away. If we truly want to understand the phenomena, it needs to be thoroughly investigated.

Resources and cites

Want to learn more?

Check out my resources page!

Claudette Beaulieu

A certified paranormal investigator, accredited demonologist, and psychic stuck in the Victorian era.

Recent Posts