When most people experience a wound, their body immediately gets to work trying to make itself better. The repair process can be long or short, but normally you bleed, a scar forms and over time the wound heals completely, often leaving no trace of injury. Sometimes though, things don’t go quite as smoothly as that. The human body is remarkable for its ability to heal itself, but what can you do if the body is struggling to properly heal?
How Long Should My Wound Take to Heal?
The amount of time it should take for your wound to heal will depend on both the depth and size of your wound. Some open wounds can take years to completely heal – a process that involves countless different red and white blood cells. A small, closed wound should take somewhere between one to four weeks to heal, but often the pain subsides before then. When you feel pain around a wound, it is your body’s way of protecting it by discouraging the wound being touched or interfered with. On average, taking both major and minor wounds into account, the average time it takes for wound healing is three months, according to research from John Hopkins Medicine.
There are a wide variety of factors that affect wound healing. For example, wounds that are kept covered tend to heal faster because they are more exposed to moisture (remember that water is an important facilitator of biological reactions) and are kept cleaner. Some health conditions naturally slow down healing processes – there are some health conditions, like hemophilia, where wounds can take a long time to heal as sufferers lack the platelet cells required for scarring.
Risks to Wound Healing
Research has found that nearly six and a half million Americans have a wound that hasn’t properly healed. Factors that can impact wound healing ability include:
- Age – elderly people usually experience slower wound healing
- High blood pressure
- Vascular disease
- Smoking, which can kill red blood cells and prevent the wounded areas from receiving oxygen
If you are naturally disposed to slower wound healing there are methods of speeding up natural healing time. Treatments that can induce faster wound healing include:
- Wound dressing for healing
- Physical therapy to reduce swelling
- Skin ointments to promote healing
- Bandages to promote healing
- Wound debridement to remove dead tissue around the wound
A major but common cause for slow wound healing is infection. An infection can take away your body’s energy, diverting it away from healing the wound and redirecting it to fighting the bacteria, fungi or germs that are causing the infection. There are a few common signs that will indicate a wound has been infected:
- If your wound isn’t healing it might be infected.
- If you notice swelling, redness or it is hot to the touch.
- If your wound is oozing pus or liquid.
- If it is painful or tender to touch.
If you worry that your wound is infected you should seek medical attention. Your doctor might prescribe you some of the following treatments, cleaning, antibiotic medications or ointments, or removal or tissue around the wound.