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All You Need to Know About Wound Healing
Wounds are breaks in our skin that usually affects the outer most skin layer known as the epidermis. Wounds can be caused due to various reasons, but the most ordinary ones are scrapes, burns, lacerations, punctures and cuts. There are different treatments for different wounds and the depending on the type of wound, how it occurred, and the severity of the wound. All our tissues heal after a certain period of time, some leaving behind scars. A wound needs proper care preventing infection or scarring. The healing process is very important, and it becomes essential to take good care of any injured area.
The healing process involves 4 different phases:
- The Inflammatory Phase: This phase starts with the injury itself. During this phase you will find that the wound starts bleeding, and the blood vessels are narrowing right away. At the same time, the formation of clots and chemical substances are being released right into the injury for the healing process to begin. The wound is then cleared of debris by the specialized cells, and this may take many days to complete.
- The Proliferative Phase: This is the second phase of wound healing where the formation of cell latticework or matrix accumulate. New blood vessels and skin cells will be formed on the matrix formation. The wound will appear red or pinkish in color due to newly formed blood vessels; better known as capillaries. These blood vessels further supply nutrients and oxygen to the rebuilding cells in order to continue the growth of new cells and also support protein—mainly collagen. The collagen functions like that of a support where new tissue builds. Collagen is the foremost substance in the scar that will form at the end of the healing.
- The Remodeling Phase: This phase begins 2 to 3 weeks after the injury. By this time, the collagen is better organized, strengthening the tissues. The density of the blood vessels lessens, and the wound loses its pink color. The injured area will strengthen and over this course of time, about 6 months, the wound can heal up to 70 percent of the original skin.
- Epithelialization: This process involves the laying down of epithelial cells, the new skin. During this phase, the skin, between the body and its outer environment, forms a protective barrier. Protection is the main purpose of this barrier—keeping the wound from bacteria and excessive loss of water. This layer needs reconstruction that begins within a few hours from the injury and the whole process takes about 24 to 48 hours to complete. In the end, you can see a clean and well-structured or stitched wound. An open wound can take more time to heal (7 to 10 days) as the inflammatory phase is extended and that leads to scarring. Scarring occurs only when the injury goes deep into the skin layers and reaches the dermis layer of the skin.
Types of Wounds:
- Cuts and scrapes are mostly superficial and occur on the skin’s surface. The deeper layers of the skin are least affected in this case and there is minimum bleeding. There may be a very slow oozing instead of blood. Such wounds are caused due to friction or if the injured area has been rubbed against a coarse surface.
- Lacerations or cuts pass though different skin layers and enter right into the deep and fat tissues. The bleeding is much more profuse or brisk. The common causes of laceration include falling against any hard surface, blows by a blunt object, or contact with any sharp object.
- Puncture wounds are usually caused when any sharp and pointed object makes hard contact and enters the skin. Some of the common causes of puncture wounds are needle sticks on fingers, stepping on nails, and knife cuts. Often with these, there is minimal bleeding and the wound is small.
- Animal bites and human bites can be considered a laceration, a puncture or a blending of both. Contaminated saliva is always present in these wounds, and this can cause infection. In such cases, these wounds would need special care.
WOUND CARE AT HOME
Wash abrasions and cuts properly at home at least 4 times a day for 48 hours, and then the wound needs to be covered by a proper sterile bandage. If the wound is severe, you may want to call for medical attention.
- Stop the bleeding and use a clean bandage on the affected area.
- The wound should be cleaned with water. You may need to apply pressure. Be sure to remove all the debris and dirt. Do not scrub the wound as this can irritate and cause more bleeding.
- Apply the proper antiseptic and sterile application to prevent infection.
- If the injured person is not up to date on tetanus shots, one may be needed. Consult your physician to schedule an appointment, and determine if antibiotics may be necessary.
- If the wound is serious and deep, stitches may be necessary and a doctor or emergency room technician can take care of this.
- If the injured person loses consciousness, call the 911 emergency phone number and stay with the injured person.
One should be very careful while handling sharp objects or working near dangerous areas. Though injuries need not necessarily be associated with sharp objects or working conditions, it is better to be careful and aware of your surroundings at all times. Most wounds can be prevented when caution and care are used.
- Pay attention while you are cleaning sharp objects like scissors, knives, cooking utensils, etc. as these can sometimes cause severe injury.
- Wear shoes or slippers when you are indoors to prevent anything from pricking into your feet or to prevent slipping on areas that are wet or smooth.
- Use helmets while you ride a motorcycle or a bicycle.
- Be careful while handling tools of any kind.
- Use caution when approaching animals that are not familiar to you.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.