How Do Wounds Heal?

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We all know what to do when we get a cut or burn but there is a lot more to wound care than grabbing the first aid kit and putting wound dressing on the injury.  While first-aid knowledge is important for immediately dealing with a wound, learning about the process of wound healing and other factors that affect it can help in better wound management and quick wound healing.

Wound healing is a complex multiphase process that depends upon a number of factors.  The phases of wound healing do not take place one after another but overlap each other.  The three primary phases of wound healing include inflammatory, proliferative and remodeling phases. 

Inflammatory Phase

This is the first phase of wound healing which starts as soon as the injury takes place and continues for up to five days.  First, the clotting mechanism springs into action and platelets aggregate to stop the bleeding.  After about 24 hours, debridement starts due to the action of enzymes and dead tissues, bacteria and other such material are removed from the wound site.

In addition to this, due to certain inflammatory factors, blood vessels become permeable to allow the passage of fluids to the wound.  At the same time, growth of new blood vessels and formation of new tissues also begins.  Now, the process moves into the proliferative phase.

Proliferative Phase

This phase begins during the first three weeks in which different types of cells and collagen start to settle in the wound.  Granulation occurs in this phase due to the formation of new blood vessels and the wound closes down after it is covered with a new epithelial layer.

Remodeling

This is the last and the longest phase of the wound healing process which continues for up to two years.  In this phase the body tries to regain the normal tissue structure.  A scar is formed in place of the original tissues on the wound site.

While the natural repair process takes place automatically, there are certain conditions that hinder or help the healing process.  Diseases like diabetes negatively affect this process and delay wound healing especially if the blood sugar is not properly controlled.  Proper nutrition significantly helps in the healing process.  The body needs adequate amounts of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals to assist with wound healing.  Good nutrition does not mean any special diet; a balanced healthy diet comprising of all food groups including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat in the right proportions is all that is needed.

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