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Wound Care 101: 7 Natural Ways to Assist Wound Healing

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Wound care - Dr. Axe

Cuts and scrapes are common wounds most of us experience here and there, but do you know the natural ways to make these wounds heal well and fast? Most minor wounds are harmless and go away after a matter of days, but sometimes they can become infected, which is why it’s important to promote healing with proper wound care.

A wound can be defined as any damage or break in the surface of the skin. Trauma or skin breakdown are the main causes of wounds, which can be open or closed. Wounds are considered to be acute wounds if they are new. Wounds are considered to be chronic if they last longer than three to four weeks.

If you’re wondering how to heal cuts fast on the face and body, you’ve come to the right place. How does a wound heal faster? With proper initial wound care and continued attention to the wound, including some highly effective natural remedies, healing time can be shortened and unwanted side effects like infections and scarring can often be avoided.


Different Types of Wounds

The most basic classification of wounds is acute or chronic and open or closed, and then there are many subcategories under these classifications.

Some common types of wounds include:

  • Cuts
  • Burns
  • Scrapes
  • Puncture wounds
  • Pressure sores

Minor cuts like a paper cut can heal in just a couple of days. How long does it take for a deep wound to heal? It can really vary. For example, large or deep wounds due to surgery incisions can take anywhere from six to eight weeks to heal. Wound healing time can vary depending on several factors. It can take anywhere from days to weeks to months to years for wounds to completely heal.

The following factors can prevent or slow wounds from healing:

  • Infection
  • Diabetes
  • Poor blood flow
  • Obesity, which raises the risk of infection after surgery
  • Age … Older adults generally heal more slowly than younger people
  • Heavy alcohol, which can slow healing and increase infection risk
  • Smoking, which delays healing and increases the risk for complications such as infection and wounds breaking open
  • Stress, which can lead to a lack of sleep, an unhealthy diet and smoking/drinking more, which can slow healing
  • Taking certain medications including corticosteroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and some chemotherapy drugs

Can Vaseline heal cuts? Vaseline, which is just petroleum jelly, is not a proven way to heal wounds or prevent scarring. If anything, it is very clogging to the skin. It can provide moisture, but there are many natural moisturizers like coconut oil that you can use instead (more on that later).


Stages of Wound Healing

If you take a look at wound healing stages pictures, you’ll see that there is a general process from the time a wound occurs to when it is fully healed.

There are four main stages or types of wound healing. What are the four stages of wound healing? This is a basic stages of wound healing timeline:

Stage 1 — Hemostasis Stage (Bleeding Stops): Proteins in your blood act like glue to make the platelets clump together and stick to the opening in the blood vessel to form a clot and stop bleeding from the wound area.

Stage 2 — Defensive/Inflammatory Stage: Blood platelets release special chemicals that cause inflammation, often resulting in swelling and redness around the wound area. Chronic inflammation is problematic, but this is a perfect example of temporary and helpful inflammation in the body. At this stage, infection-fighting white blood cells also make their way to the wound site to get rid of any bacteria and produce growth factors that will help to repair the wound area. This stage often lasts four to six days.

Stage 3 —  Proliferative Stage (Skin Rebuilds): This is when your body starts building new skin cells, which includes providing the wound with oxygen and nutrients it needs to heal properly. Chemical messengers also signal skin cells to synthesize collagen, a key protein required to rebuild the damaged area. A reddish scar may form at this stage but can fade with time and the use of natural scar remedies. Stage 3 can be between four to 24 days.

Stage 4 — Maturation Phase: This final stage of healing mainly consists of the new skin becoming stronger. As the new skin tissue sets into place, it’s normal to observe some puckering or stretching around the wound area. This final stage can take anywhere from 21 days to two years.


7 Natural Wound Care Techniques

How can I make my wound heal faster? You may have been asking yourself this question before you came across this article. For minor wounds, clean your wound with running water and a gentle soap, dry it and then cover the wound with a sterile bandage. For more serious wounds, follow your healthcare provider’s wound care instructions.

If you’re looking for some additional natural remedies to help heal wounds fast, here are some great ideas:

1. Top Foods to Heal Wounds

If you’re looking for how to heal deep wounds faster, don’t forget about your diet! There are many healing foods that can help, including:

  • Green leafy vegetables: Kale, broccoli, spinach and other greens are high in vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting.
  • Clean, lean protein: The body cannot rebuild lost tissue without protein. Try to get at least four to five ounces of organic, lean protein (such as wild-caught fish or grass-fed beef) per meal.
  • Wild-caught fish: Essential fatty acids found in foods like wild-caught fish, walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds are critical to help rapidly heal wounds.

2. Avoid Foods that Slow Healing

Then there are some foods you’ll want to avoid to encourage healing, including:

  • Alcohol: It can increase inflammation, which is counterproductive to healing.
  • Sugar and refined grains: These promote inflammation and can slow healing.
  • Hydrogenated oils: Hydrogenated fats promote inflammation and decrease the ability of your body to heal.
  • Processed foods: These can contain hydrogenated oils, chemicals, dyes and other questionable additives that can slow wound healing.

3. Collagen

If you’re wondering how to make a wound heal faster, you may want to consider collagen, which is the most abundant protein in the body, and gives structure to your skin. Internal use of collagen can help to boost wound healing, which includes the body’s synthesis of collagen to repair the wound area. Topical use of collagen in wound dressings is also known to encourage new tissue growth.

To incorporate collagen into your diet, try making homemade bone broth or using a protein powder made from bone broth, which is rich in collagen. Research demonstrates collagen powder may even be helpful as adjunctive therapy for chronic wounds such as pressure ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers.

4. Raw Honey

Not surprising, a knee scrape healing time will be noticeably less than the healing time required for a deeper wound. If you’re wondering, how can I make my wound heal faster? Raw honey is an excellent remedy to help heal wounds quicker. Honey can help to clean the wound, decrease signs of infection, including pus and odors, reduce pain and even speed up the healing process.

Research shows honey acts as an effective antiseptic wound dressing. The honey actually reacts with the body’s fluids to make hydrogen peroxide, creating an inhospitable environment for bacteria. In addition, “concentrations of hydrogen peroxide generated are very low in comparison to those typically applied to a wound, thus, cytotoxic damage by hydrogen peroxide is very low.” So in other words, honey can promote ideal levels of hydrogen peroxide rather than application of pure hydrogen peroxide, which can sometimes be too strong for wounds and cause tissue damage.

Some wounds have been known to heal with honey application when other wound care treatment is unsuccessful. Honey has been shown to help a large variety of wounds, including those that occur after surgery, chronic leg ulcers, abscesses, burns, abrasions and cuts. Honey seems to reduce odors and pus, help clean the wound, reduce infection, reduce pain and decrease time to healing. A mixture of honey and ghee has also been advocated for and used as dressing for infected wounds since 1991 in four Mumbai hospitals.

For the treatment of burns and wounds, a high-quality honey can be applied directly to the affected area or in a dressing that you should change every 24 to 48 hours. You can also make a homemade healing salve by mixing raw honey, tea tree oil and lavender oil.

5. Essential Oils

Essential oils like tea tree and rosemary have impressive antibacterial properties against a wide range of bacteria and fungi. Dilute essential oils with a carrier oil like coconut oil in a 1:1 ratio before applying it. You can do this up to three times per day.

This also increases the moisture level of the wound area, which is great for healing. Do wounds heal faster wet or dry? According to experts, wounds require moisture to heal. Do wounds heal faster covered or uncovered? By leaving a wound uncovered, the new surface cells that are forming dry out, which can make pain worse and/or slow down the healing process. So, make sure to apply essential oil diluted with a carrier oil and then cover the area with a sterile bandage.

Discontinue use of essential oils if sensitivity develops. In general, always keep essential oils away from your eyes and other mucous membranes.

6. Zinc

Zinc promotes immune function and improves skin healing. Having a zinc deficiency can actually impair the wound healing process. As pointed out in a 2018 scientific article published in the journal Nutrients, “zinc plays a major role in regulating every phase of the wound healing process; ranging from membrane repair, oxidative stress, coagulation, inflammation and immune defense, tissue re-epithelialization, angiogenesis, to fibrosis/scar formation.” Researchers believe that with the need for improved wound care, “zinc and the proteins for which it serves as a cofactor will greatly advance the treatment and care of difficult-to-heal wounds.”

There are many zinc-rich foods you can incorporate into your wound healing diet plan including lamb, grass-fed beef, pumpkin seeds and cashews. You can also supplement with zinc.

7. Vitamin C

Another key nutrient that can really boost your wound care efforts, vitamin C helps to manufacture collagen, which as you now know is critical for healing damage to skin tissues and blood vessels. Vitamin C actually plays a key role in all phases of the wound healing process.

It’s not hard to get this powerful antioxidant in your diet daily through vitamin C-rich foods such as citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries and tomatoes. You can also take a high-quality vitamin C supplement. Amla is available as a powdered supplement, and it’s an excellent source of vitamin C.


Precautions for Wound Care

If you’re wondering, “Is my cut infected or just healing?,” you may want to see your doctor to be on the safe side.

Always seek emergency medical care if:

  • You have excessive bleeding from a wound, or the bleeding is difficult to stop.
  • It’s a wound caused by the bite of an animal or a human.
  • Your skin is pulled apart due to a wound. You may require stitches.
  • It’s a wound accompanied by numbness. This may be indicative of nerve damage.

As your wound heals, do not pick or scratch at any scabs that form because this can lead to scarring or infection.

Contact your doctor if you notice any of the following signs of an infected wound:

  • Increased redness or swelling
  • Pain that worsens as time goes on
  • Skin around the wound feels warm
  • Unpleasant odor when cleaning the wound
  • Unusual or increased drainage
  • Fever or chills

If you have a serious wound, check with your doctor before using any topical alternative remedies.


Wound Care Final Thoughts

  • A wound is any damage or break in the surface of the skin.
  • Common types of wounds include cuts, scrapes, burns, puncture wounds and pressure sores.
  • After a wound occurs, there are four main stages of healing performed by our bodies. These include stopping the bleeding, cleaning out the wound and fighting bacteria, rebuilding the skin tissue, and the final stage where the new tissue becomes stronger.
  • Natural remedies that can boost healing include:
    • A diet that includes foods that are rich in key helpful nutrients like protein, vitamin K, zinc, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids.
    • Avoiding unhelpful foods and beverages, including high-sugar items, processed foods and alcohol.
    • Supplementing your diet with zinc, vitamin C and collagen-rich bone broth.
    • Applying essential oils daily with a moisturizing carrier oil.
    • Using honey and essential oils in a homemade wound-healing salve.
  • Always seek urgent medical care for a serious wound and follow your doctor’s wound care instructions carefully, always checking before using any natural remedies to be on the safe side.

Read Next: 8 Secrets on How to Get Rid of Scars


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