Once you get injured and get a wound, here are a few steps that you should follow:
- Clean the wound: In case of minor cuts or scratches, wash it well with soap and clear water to remove the dirt or debris. If you find any foreign object such as glass in the wound, get it removed from a doctor.
- Stop the bleeding: Clean your hands and apply pressure on the wound with the help of a clean cloth or bandage for about 10-20 minutes. This will stop the bleeding.
- Apply an antiseptic: You can apply any antiseptic cream such as Betadine (povidone-iodine) on the wound to prevent infection. Alternatively, you can apply an antibiotic cream.
- Pack the wound: Apply a sterile bandage over the wound. If the wound is deep or big, you may need to see a doctor get the appropriate dressing done.
If the wound is very large and deep, your doctor will close the wound manually by stitching (suturing).
In the case of surgical wounds, you need to clean the wound and change the dressing daily or as advised by the doctor.
What are the four stages of wound healing?
Wound healing is a complex process that gets completed in four stages in an organized manner. The phases of wound healing are:
- Hemostasis: This is the stage after the blood oozes out of the wound. The bleeding stops by the formation of a blood clot (thrombus). This thrombus is mainly made up of components of blood, which are known as platelets.
- Inflammation: During this phase, the injured blood vessels in the wound discharge fluid that causes the wound to swell. During the inflammatory phase, the wound repair process starts, and the damaged cells and bacteria get cleared from the wound. This process stops further bleeding and also wards off infection.
- Proliferation: During this phase, new tissue formation (known as granulation tissue) takes place as the wound contracts. A new network of blood vessels also develops to supply oxygen for the growth of new tissues in the wound.
- Maturation (tissue remodeling): The cells that had aggregated in the wound to repair it get removed and the wound gets closed.
Which factors affect wound healing?
Not all wounds heal at the same pace. Some factors affect the way how a wound heals:
- Age: The inflammatory response of the body generally decreases with aging. This may slow the process of wound healing.
- Type of wound: Deeper and longer wounds take time to heal. Also, irregular or contaminated wounds may take longer to heal as compared with clean-cut wounds.
- Infection: Invasion of the open wound by microbes such as bacteria hampers the wound healing process.
- Poor nutrition: Lack of proteins and other nutrients in the diet can delay wound healing.
- Skin moisture: Moisture at the wound is an essential factor necessary for the proliferative phase of wound healing. Hence, it is necessary to drink lots of water during the healing process that will hydrate the wound.
- Poor blood circulation: As the blood supplies all the essential nutrients to the wound required for its healing, poor blood circulation can lead to delayed wound healing.
- Health issues such as diabetes and obesity may delay wound healing.
- Certain medications may affect wound healing.
- Stress may retard wound healing.
- Smoking may decrease blood flow, thus retarding wound healing.
- Alcohol abuse harms general health and can delay wound healing.
- Weakened immunity such as in AIDS may slow the wound healing process.
When to call the doctor for your wound?
After you get the wound and follow all the steps of wound care, you need to observe your wound for a few days till it heals completely. Call the doctor if you feel that your wound has become infected. Watch for signs of infection: