Do Wounds Heal Faster Covered or Uncovered?
A lot of people believe that leaving a wound uncovered is a good idea because it allows the wound to be exposed to air (oxygen), and breathe. It is true that oxygen is a vital element to healthy wound healing.
However, leaving a wound exposed to open air isn’t required in order for sufficient oxygen to reach the wound. It is actually the oxygen transported by our blood that provides sufficient oxygen to the damaged blood vessels for the new skin cells to properly heal.
Wound Healing Process
But first, we need to understand the healing process of a wound (the disruption of the skin’s (epidermis) normal structure), so that we can better care for it.
There are few phases required to heal a wound starting with the blood clotting. This is when the body releases certain substances causing the blood to clot after it is used as a cleansing agent for the broken area. The next phase causes the wound to swell and redden due to additional fluids, also functioning as cleansing agents. This phase also involves scab formation, protecting the fragile new skin cell regeneration.
The next phase continues under the scab, new skin tissue regenerates by producing collagen and the new skin is formed completing the healing process. Once the new skin is formed the scab falls off, resulting in a scar due to the new skin being a different texture and color than the surrounding skin. Typical the scar fades over time. One of the key elements to an efficient healing process, is a moist environment (not wet). The most hygienic way to promote this moist environment is to cover the wound.
An uncovered open wound is exposed to dirt, bugs, accidental scrapes and bumps which may cause re-injury delaying the healing process. Also the protective scab may dry-out delaying the healing process and promote worse scarring. The wound is also exposed to open air that may contaminate it with existing bacteria which leads to infection, the most serious issue for any wound.
A covered wound will provide the necessary moist environment. Changing the wound dressing regularly will ensure a hygienic environment is maintained preventing the transmission of bacteria that may be unwanted. A covered wound is also provided an additional layer of protection from scrapping the wound, and the urge some people have to “pick” at the scab. Covered wounds typically heal a few days quicker.
Caring for Wounds - We hope that the provided information allows you to make a confident informed decision about caring for open cuts and puncture wounds.