Wound healing processes are all processes which help a wound to close. Here, the body forms new tissue and creates new blood vessels.
What are the most common causes of superficial skin injuries and wounds?
The most common causes of skin injuries are sharp objects, such as scissors, knives or sharp edges on tins and paper. But falls and accidents can also lead to skin injuries. The most common wounds are:
- Contused wounds
We differentiate between various types of wounds:
- Mechanical wounds (such as cuts, stab wounds, bite wounds, lacerations, incised wounds, abrasions, skin ablations etc.)
- Wounds caused by heat or cold (burns or frostbite)
- Chemical wounds (acid or alkali burns)
- Radiation-based wounds (skin irritation after radioactive radiation)
Depending on the type of injury and the tissue affected, the following symptoms may occur:
As a result of an injury, some of the tissue may be lost. We talk of open wounds when we talk about injuries on the skin or mucous membrane and closed wounds (such as strain traumata, bruises and sprains), where the skin and the mucous membrane remain intact.
What are the phases of wound healing?
In order to close a wound, the body utilizes two different wound healing mechanisms:
- Regeneration: During the regeneration phase, the tissue repairs without scars, as the injured tissue is specifically replaced. Some tissue regenerates especially well, such as the skin and the mucous membrane.
- Repair: When tissue damage is repaired, the wound healing process will often cause scars, as the injured tissue is not specifically replaced. Rather, unspecific connective and supporting tissue is used to close the wound.
The wound healing process is carried out in various phases. These usually cross over and overlap somewhat. The duration of each phase varies depending on the person.
The ephitelial wound healing process takes an exceptional position. It takes place in superficial wounds, such as sunburns or abrasions. One condition for an epithelial wound healing process is that the injury is only affecting the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). The healing process involves a restoration of damaged tissue and does not leave any scars. During the epithelial wound healing process, no granulation tissue is formed, nor does a contraction of the wound occur. It simply involves epithelization, a process which is completed after a few days.
What could interrupt the wound healing process?
Certain factors may have a negative effect on the normal wound healing process:
- Wound infections
- Illnesses, such as high blood pressure (hypertonia) or diabetes (diabetes mellitus), whereby the wound is not supplied with sufficient oxygen due to insufficient blood circulation.
- Age: older people are often subject to a slower wound healing process.
- Connective tissue formation problems, which can lead to visible, sometimes dark red, itching scars.
Other possible causes for wound healing problems are, for example:
- Lack of vitamin C
- Zinc insufficiency
- Foreign bodies in the wound
- Weak immune system (for example because of an HIV infection)
- Certain medication, such as coagulation inhibitors, cancer treatment drugs (cytostatic drugs), medication which suppresses the immune system (immune suppressants).
What can help with the wound healing process?
- A healthy diet
- Good blood circulation
- Germ-free wounds
- Immobilization of the affected area
What can I do myself?
Most skin injuries occur in the form of small scrapes, cuts and abrasions and you yourself can treat them. Larger or bleeding wounds, irrespective of the type and cause, should be checked by a doctor as soon as possible, or an emergency physician may need to be called. For skin injuries, the respective treatment is mainly based on the cause. This can often be evaluated on first glance.
First, the wound should be cooled and cleaned as best possible, or disinfected with an antiseptic solution or cream. In order to avoid the wound becoming infected with morbific germs, you should apply a plaster or suitable bandaging. An immobilization of the area would also support the wound healing process.
What else would help me?
In regard to skin injuries, it is important that the person has an up-to-date immunization against tetanus. Should the person not have been immunized, there is a risk of infection with the bacterium clostridium tetani, which may be life threatening. In order to avoid this, the immunization is updated after the respective skin injury.
Not all skin injuries need to be treated by a doctor. Small, superficial cuts or abrasions may be treated independently, relying on the required expertise, and using some disinfectant and a plaster or sterile compression. In order to promote the respective skin to heal, ointments may be applied. Active ingredients, such as malic acid speed up the wound healing process, reduce pain and have an anti-inflammatory effect. Echinacea and witch hazel have a similar effect. Hyaluronic acid, D-panthenol and linoleic acid as well as liposomes containing choline furthermore support the skin’s regeneration.
This text is for your information only. Please do not use it to make a diagnosis, but consult a physician instead, should you have any questions or issues. Only they will be able to assess the symptoms based on their clinical experience and will be able to take possible further diagnostic steps, where required.