How Exactly Does a Wound Heal Itself?
It could be a simple scratch, a scrape or a complete opening, wound care and healing are important. At some point, we will all experience having a wound. In fact, more than 305 million acute, traumatic and burn wounds are reported and treated around the world each year, according to research, and this number is expected to rise by at least 2% annually over the next decade.
In the United States alone, more than 8.2 million patients with Medicare benefits are suffering from chronic wounds.
Fortunately, the body is capable of healing its wounds, especially if it’s in tiptop shape. Wound healing occurs in different stages and the time it takes to recover completely depends on the size and extent of the wound, as well as wound care.
Bleeding and clotting
As soon as you get a wound, it will instantly bleed, whether it’s a cut, puncture or scrape. A few minutes after, clotting happens to stop the bleeding and create a scab that protects the underlying tissue by being penetrated by germs. There are wounds, however, that don’t bleed like pressure sores and burns.
As scabbing occurs, your immune system gets to work to protect your wound from infection. Aside from swelling, tenderness and redness, you may also notice a clear discharge from the affected area, which helps clean the wound.
Blood vessels will then start to open up to allow oxygen and nutrients to be delivered to the wound to facilitate healing. This stage that usually takes about 2-5 days is crucial in the recovery of a wound.
In diabetic patients, however, blood vessels will continue to be restricted, which prevents proper delivery of oxygen and nutrients into the wound. This will cause the wound to heal slower and even turn into gangrene.
Three weeks after the injury, the body will start to repair broken blood vessels and create new tissue starting with collagen. Without any complications, granulation tissue will start to form over the wound and new skin will eventually start appearing. As healing continues, the edges of the wound will pull inward to make the wound smaller.
As the wound becomes stronger, the scab will start to fall off revealing a red, shiny and sometimes stretched area where scar starts to form. Scars usually fade away over time but some can last for as long as two years. Some people are also prone to forming keloids from their wounds; especially people with darker complexions and some have scars that never go away completely.
Scars are usually more prominent when the wound is deeper. But if you only injured the top layer of your skin, you’ll most likely not have a small scar or not have it at all.
Proper wound management is essential
While the body has its own way of healing itself, proper wound care and management are still crucial to the prognosis of the wound. Cleaning, debridement, and medication will prevent the occurrence of infection and other complications that will delay wound healing.
This is when it really counts to work with the right healthcare team in ensuring the best outcomes in wound management.
We specialize in diagnosis and treatment for any and all wound care issues for patients in San Diego County, Orange County, and Riverside County. For more information or to set an appointment, please contact us.