Accidents happen. While we wish they didn’t, that’s just the fact of life. But, it’s what you do after the wound occurs that makes or breaks the outcome of the situation. When it comes to wounds, they’re not all the same. Wounds include everything from abrasions and lacerations to punctures, incisions, and scratches. As each wound can differ in type and severity, so too does the wound healing process.
Know Your Wound Healing
To truly understand how to heal your wound, you need to have a firm understanding of the wound healing process itself. Generally, healing can be broken down into four stages:
Hemostasis kicks in at the moment of injury. The entire purpose of this phase is to clot the blood to prevent any excessive blood loss. The second phase of healing focuses on preventing infection. During this phase, the body attacks and destroys any foreign contaminants, such as bacteria and debris. During the third stage, the proliferative phase, there are three sub-phases. The body begins to fill the wound with new connective tissues, blood vessels, and fibers. Next, the body will constrict the wound, bringing the edges together and toward the center for closure. Then, the wound is properly sealed by new epithelial cells. After these sub-phases are completed, the body moves on to the final stage of its healing process—the maturation phase. Here, the tissues begin to age, strengthening and gaining flexibility.
Types of Wound Healing
Of course, once you understand the basics of the body’s healing—you can now move on to understanding the different types of wound healing. As we mentioned, not all wounds are the same. Yes, the building blocks of healing are similar, but there are many ways to foster this process and each one varies by the type of wound you are dealing with.
Primary intention is the best method in cases where the wound’s edges are clean, crisp, and free of debris and microbes. Usually, primary intention is used in surgical incisions but can be utilized in cases where the wound requires quick closure. With this type of healing, risk of infection is limited as the wound is sealed quickly, and scarring is often minimal at best.
In cases where the wound edges are not clean incisions, or in situations where there is not enough excess skin to go into the center of the wound, secondary intention is utilized. This method of wound healing allows for tissue repair to occur over a longer period of time. As this healing process does take longer than primary intention, it does increase the risk of infection if improperly cared for and will leave behind a larger scar.
We utilize tertiary intention when the wound needs to be open for longer periods of time, such as wounds that need draining prior to closure. As these wounds are open, they are at a much greater risk for infection. This method also requires more connective tissue buildup than other forms of healing and thus leaves behind more intensive scarring.
Regardless of how you heal your wound, it is important to promote a healthy wound closure. This includes monitoring nutrition and rest, keeping the area clean and clear of infectious contaminants, and avoiding unnecessary physical stress on the area. Always verify any types of medications you are taking with a doctor to circumvent accidentally slowing the process. These simple steps will help you encourage your body to heal cuts faster and with fewer complications.
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