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The Healing Process

"How wounds heal and form scars"
By: Vanessa ValenzuelaThe Healing Process

The healing process and development of scar tissue generally occur in three phases.

1. Inflammatory phase. The inflammatory phase lasts from 2 to 7 days. During this time, your open wound should have stopped bleeding or your pimple must have finished erupting. To fight infection, your white blood cells increase and collagen starts to form.

2. Proliferative phase. To pull the edges of the cut together, your body continues to produce collagen and new capillaries. The wound looks “wet” because of the cells that the body produces to keep the affected area sterile. In this phase, red bumps may start to form and the edges of the wound start to thicken.

3. Maturation phase. This is the final phase of the scar tissue healing process. In the maturation phase, apart from producing more collagen, the body also tries to remodel the appearance of the scar so it becomes less noticeable. This amazing process takes place over the next 6 to 18 months until your scar becomes lighter in color and more flat. The final appearance of a healed scar will not be reached until about 2 years after your injury.

Keeping your cut or gash moist enhances the process of epithelialization or regrowth of new skin. What are the types of topical substances that can be used to moisten an open wound? You have a myriad of choices, from petroleum jelly to hydrogels, transparent films, and hydrocolloid dressings. Aside from moist dressing, some people also try to apply antibiotic ointments to protect the wound from infection.

Be sure not to confuse an antiseptic with a topical antibiotic. Antiseptics like alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and povidone iodine delay healing and worsen scarring by killing not only microbes but skin tissue. They should only be used to cleanse and disinfect the wound and they should be used sparingly. They should not be placed on the wound for a long time. Better still, just use water and soap to cleanse the wound in most cases.

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