Our body has a complex physiological system for repairing and regenerating damaged skin tissues. Each tissue injury must go through various stages, from the onset of the initial wound to the actual healing process, where each overlaps in time and is necessary for proper tissue restoration. But then, how long does it take for a wound to heal?
How long does it take for a wound to heal?
The time required for a wound to heal depends on its size, severity, depth, and location. For instance, minor injuries (scratches, small cuts, etc.), which do not present significant tissue damage or infection, heal within approximately four to six weeks. However, this does not include scar tissue, which takes longer to form and heal. Therefore, a full healing process can take a year or more, the time it takes for the new tissue to gain strength and solidity and replace the temporary tissue in the injured area (remodelling phase).
The new skin will never regain 100% strength, but it will reach a robustness of 80% approximately 11 to 14 weeks after the injury has occurred.
Regarding deep or extensive wounds, they heal more quickly when they are closed (stitches, staples, glues, etc.) than when they are left open. Indeed, closing the wound reduces the area that the body needs to rebuild, focusing on healing a smaller surface. This is why surgical wounds generally heal faster than other types of wounds, taking six to eight weeks to heal.
The healing duration also depends on how you care for it. Wounds heal faster or better if you keep them covered. They also need moisture to heal. However, certain systemic disorders (diabetes, etc.), the use of certain medications or immunosuppression can slow down or interrupt healing. This can occur even if your injury is due to a surgical procedure or a medical procedure. Finally, if a wound is located in a friction area (groin, etc.), it will take longer to heal.
If a wound has not healed within four weeks, it is referred to as "chronic" and can persist for weeks, or even months. In many cases, it cannot heal without medical intervention.
What can be done to promote good wound healing?
Whether it's related to a burn or a surgical procedure, a wound is a living area and its appearance will change over time. For your skin to heal better and faster, it is essential to take care of it by adopting certain daily habits that can influence the way the skin repairs itself.
Cleaning the wound: when an injury occurs, the first action to take is to clean it with warm soapy water or saline solution using a sterile compress to prevent any contamination and infection that can delay and disrupt the healing process. This care should be carried out for the entire duration of the healing process.
Maintaining a moist healing environment: studies have shown that wet wounds heal 50% faster than dry wounds. Indeed, epithelialcells require moisture to be able to migrate to the wound surface to close it. Therefore, take care to cover it with a waterproof dressing for at least the first two to three weeks. After the wound has closed, apply a repairing care product to your scar at least twice a day to soothe, hydrate, and assist the dermis and epidermis in regenerating.
Wet healing is not suitable for all types of wounds, such as gangrenous ulcers of the diabetic foot or fungal wounds.
Selecting the appropriate dressing for the wound: choose a dressing that contributes to creating an optimal healing environment, that is, one that has anti-microbial properties, is capable of absorbing excess exudate, protects the edges of the wound and the peri-lesional skin, and maintains a moist environment.
MEDRADO A. R. A. P. & al. Wound healing - A literature review. Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia (2016).
ZITO P. M. & al. Wound healing phases. StatPearls (2023).