Did you know the ancient Egyptians used honey and a bandage to help the wounds heal? They recognized the signs of infection, even though they’re not aware of the idea of bacteria yet. They only recognized the healing effects of this method.
Today, we use something similar to cover up our wounds, although we now use a different concoction. Both methods, though, keep the wound site moist.
But people say it’s better to let the wound air dry for it to heal faster. Were the Egyptians (and our modern doctors) wrong?
Do wounds heal faster covered or uncovered? Let’s discuss the healing process of both methods and let’s find out which one is true.
How the Wound Heals When Uncovered
The uncovered method relies on the formation of scabs to protect the wound. It’s one of the many ways a body reacts to a wound, and it’s pretty effective, too.
The scab forms a protective layer that doesn’t allow anything to pass through. It acts as your skin while the actual skin beneath heals.
That way, it defends against germs and other pathogens that might infect the wound. It also prevents blood and other liquids from flowing out.
How Does a Scab Form?
As soon as the skin breaks, our blood cells called platelets hurry to the site. They stick to each other like glue, forming a clot. However, they break apart when exposed to air.
That’s when fibrinogen comes to the rescue. It reacts with the platelets to create fibrin. Fibrin, which is a thread-like substance that forms some sort of web, traps the blood cells.
This forms the actual clot that hardens into a scab.
How Does the Scabs Healing Process Work?
It’s not the scab that heals the dry wound. It only protects the site while the actual healing process takes place.
Underneath the scab, all sorts of processes are taking place. The body is making new cells to help repair the skin, white blood cells are fighting germs that made its way into the breach, and so on.
The scab will fall off by itself when the body finishes healing the skin. If it’s still there, the healing process isn’t over. Avoid picking at your scab as the process may start over.
Is a Scab Enough to Protect the Wound?
For the most part, yes. Once the scab dries out, it’s effective at keeping away germs that might infect your wound.
However, the wound is most vulnerable while you’re waiting for a scab to form. An open wound becomes an entry point for bacteria and viruses. The extra work for your white blood cells will only delay the healing process.
It’s also susceptible to re-injuries. If you don’t cover it, you might scrape it again on accident, causing an even worse injury.
How the Wound Heals When Covered
The covered method, on the other hand, relies on moisture to speed up the healing process.
One of the biggest benefits of covering your wound, however, is the lack of scarring. When you let the wound heal in a moist environment, the risk of scarring reduces exponentially. This is one of the downsides of scabbing; the risk further increases when you pick at it.
How Does Moisture Heal the Wound?
A moist environment keeps the cells alive. Moisture encourages cell growth, allowing them to divide and migrate at an optimal speed for healing.
How so? The moisture serves as a transport vehicle, including hormones, enzymes, and other bioactive molecules. It preserves growth factors, which control key cellular activities during the healing process.
This kind of environment is also ideal for white blood cells to properly destroy bacteria and other invading pathogens. Contrary to popular belief, moisture doesn’t increase the risk of infection. It makes the area inhospitable to bacteria growth.
Does the Dressing Help?
The dressing helps in keeping the moisture in plus it helps in several other ways. One of which is protecting the wound.
By having bandage over the wound, you protect it from external elements. It helps keep out dirt, water, and other substances that might harm the healing process.
It also provides a cushion that will prevent re-injuries. You’ll be more confident to move while you heal.
How Is It Faster Than Scabbing?
A wet wound doesn’t allow a scab to form. This is a good thing since the epithelial cells become free to spread throughout the wound. This protects the wound and prevents scar formation.
One of the factors why a moist wound heals faster is because it requires less energy. The body needs to expend energy for scab formation and then for shedding off the scab.
Do Wounds Heal Faster Covered or Uncovered?
The question still stands, do wounds heal faster covered or uncovered? With the knowledge above, we can say that moisture helps the wounds heal better. For this reason, most experts want to bust the myth that wound heals faster when you air it out.
It’s true, though, that you can leave small cuts and minor scrapes untouched for the most part. If you make sure to let the natural healing process take place without interrupting it (e.g. by picking at a scab), it will heal on its own without much scarring. You can also use HOCL and other products to promote healing and disinfect it.
For severe wounds, you need it to be moist for it to heal faster and without scarring. However, you’ll have to be diligent in changing the dressing to get the full benefits of this method.
It shouldn’t come to the point when it’s soaked from the moisture of the wound. It also shouldn’t get a chance to get dirty. Your doctor will advise you about the frequency of changing and about how to change it properly on your own.
Talk to Your Doctor
For minor scrapes, you might be able to make do with the uncovered method or an adhesive bandage for keeping the area moist.
However, doctor intervention is a must when you have a big gaping wound. You’ll need to clean and disinfect the area.
When at the doctor, make sure to ask, “do wounds heal faster covered or uncovered?” They’ll be able to explain it better to you. If you need more help, though, feel free to check out our other blog posts today.