One thing to ensure a wound heals faster is to be careful with the dressing and also to eat healthy food as you avoid harmful lifestyles such as smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages and having a sedentary lifestyle.
Slow healing is mainly because circulation is impaired and blood reaching the wound is not enough to allow proper healing. It is also very important to keep the wound clean so as to avoid an infection that will in turn delay healing and cause harm the overall health.
Here are some steps that will accelerate healing and prevent the appearance of ugly scars and other complications:
1. Wash the wound and make a dressing
For simple wounds such as cuts and scratches, the first step should be washing the wound and the skin around it so as to remove any bacteria and viruses as this will prevent development of an infection. This washing can be done either with saline water or water of neutral pH together with soap.
On the other hand, for surgical wounds or wounds that are severe and exposed, washing is also a method that can be used but it is best to use saline or sterile material, and this can only be done in the hospital. Before then, if the wound is too dirty, one can use some serum to remove the dirt.
Next, the dressing should be made at least during the first 24 hours before the crust is not yet formed. This is important to prevent bacteria from entering the wound.
2. Apply heat to the wound for 15 minutes
Using a hot compress on top of the dressing or on the wound for about 15 minutes increases flow of blood in the region. This also increases the amount of nutrients and puts the cells back in place hence increasing healing. This technique can be done 2 to 3 times a day but only after the cone is formed.
If the site becomes too swollen, causing pain, you should remove the compress and avoid heat application on that day or apply it for a lesser period.
3. Keep the wound high
When the site of the wound becomes swollen for more than 2 days, it is important to try and elevate the wound. This will reduce the accumulation fluids and facilitate circulation of blood. This type of swelling is more common in people who have heart disease or circulation problems and it mostly arises in the legs, causing wounds. Thus, it is important to raise the legs about 20cm above the heart level at least 3 times a day or whenever possible.
4. Eat omega 3 and vitamins A, C and E
Foods that are rich in omega 3 such as salmon, tuna and chia seeds, as well as those rich in vitamin A, C and E such as orange, mango, tomato and peanut, are great in strengthening the body and stimulating the formation of tissues that close the wound and help in the creation of a new layer of skin.
Therefore, it is important to make your diet rich in these types of foods and avoid others that hinder fast healing such as sugar, soft drinks, chocolate milk or fatty pork.
5. Use a healing ointment
Healing ointments are also a good option to accelerate healing as they provide the necessary nutrients for the regeneration of the new skin layer. They also purpose to reduce inflammation that makes healing difficult.
However, they should only be used about 3 to 5 days after the wound appears, and according to the prescription of a doctor or nurse. This is because some ointments may contain antibiotics that may not be useful for the treatment of the wound.
How healing happens
Healing is therefore a repair process that can be divided into 3 main phases:
- Inflammatory phase: This phase lasts between 1 to 4 days and it begins with constriction of blood vessels so as to avoid bleeding. But then, this phase evolves to the dilation of the vessels because blood clots in the affected area with all the cells necessary for healing. It may generate symptoms such as swelling, redness and pain.
- Proliferative phase: This phase lasts between 5 to 20 days and it is at this stage that collagen and other fibres that help in closing the wound begin to form.
- Maturation phase: It is the longest phase as it can last for up to a month or even several years. Here, the body continues to produce collagen and it corrects the balance of wounds in the scar, which will decrease it over time.
In case any of these phases do not occur, it may be due to lack of blood in the affected region or the presence of an infection. Healing will therefore be compromised and a chronic wound may arise, as in a diabetic foot, which requires that a nurse treats it for several months or even years.
Alarm signals to go to the doctor
Although most wounds scar without any complication, there is always a chance of having an infection on that site. Thus, it is important to go to the doctor whenever such signs begin to appear:
- Intense swelling that does not subside after 3 days
- Presence of pus in the wound
- Excessive bleeding
- Very intense pain
- Difficulty moving the affected limb
Other symptoms that may indicate that the wound is infected include persistent fever or excessive tiredness, and it is important to seek an evaluation from a doctor fast.