Understanding the Wound Healing Process

The wound healing process is a natural recovery response to damaged tissue. Minor injuries can heal with self-care at home, but there are a number of medical conditions that make it difficult for wounds to heal.

Wounds are injuries that involve damage to body tissues and generally occur on the skin. The skin is the largest body organ in humans and plays a role in protecting the body from microbes (viruses, fungi, bacteria). If the skin is injured, germs can easily enter the skin and cause infection.

Berets, punctures, incisions, and burns are forms of injury. In addition, surgical sutures are also included in the wound. The most common causes of injury are sharp objects, falls, scalded heat, and accidents.

What is the wound healing process?

Wounds heal by themselves through self-care at home. Independent wound care can be done if the wound is not too deep, is not in a dangerous body part, for example on the face, and the bleeding stops in a short time or about 10 minutes.

The wound healing process requires several steps, namely:

Stage of inflammation or inflammation
In the early stages of the wound healing process, blood vessels will narrow to stop bleeding. Platelets (cells that play a role in blood clotting) clot in the wound area. After freezing is complete, the blood vessels will expand to drain blood to the injured area. This is the reason why the wound feels warm, swollen, and reddish.
Then, white blood cells flood the area to prevent infection, by destroying bacteria and other microbes. White blood cells also produce chemical compounds that help repair damaged tissue. Furthermore, new skin cells grow to cover the wound area.

Fibroblastic stage
This stage is the stage of formation of scar tissue after the wound. At this stage of wound healing, collagen begins to grow inside the wound. Collagen is a protein fiber that gives skin strength. The presence of collagen pushes the edge of the wound to shrink and close. Furthermore, small blood vessels (capillaries) are formed in the wound to provide blood intake to the newly formed skin.

Maturation stage
Collagen production continues to increase so that damaged tissue recovers slowly. The ripening process can take months or even years. This is why the longer the scars fade.

After the damaged tissue has completely recovered, the skin will become as strong as before it was injured. However, the appearance of scar skin may be different from normal skin. This is because the skin is composed of two proteins, namely collagen which gives skin strength, and elastin which gives skin flexibility. In scars, the skin cannot produce new elastin, so the scar is made entirely of collagen. The skin on the scar is strong, but less flexible than the surrounding skin.

Certain Conditions That Cause Difficult Wounds to Heal

There are several conditions that cause difficult wounds to heal, namely:

Bleeding
Bleeding makes the wound difficult to close, making it difficult to heal.

Foreign object
Foreign objects, including dead skin tissue, inhibit wound healing. Dirty wounds are also susceptible to bacterial infections so that the wound healing process can be disrupted. Therefore, it is very important to clean the wound and treat the wound properly.

Friction
Friction with the clothes can make the condition worse. It is recommended to wear soft clothing and cover the wound to avoid friction.

Age
Wounds tend to heal longer in older people.

Nutritional deficiencies
Lack of nutrients such as vitamin C, protein, and iron, can inhibit wound healing.

Smoke
Research shows that the wound healing process for smokers is much longer and imperfect than non-smokers. This is thought to be related to the effect of smoking which can interfere with the performance of white blood cells and disrupt blood flow, as well as high levels of toxins in the blood.

Stressful
Physical and psychological stress is proven to affect the process of wound healing. This is thought to be related to the effect of stress on the low amount of oxygen in the blood so that the wound healing process takes longer. When experiencing stress, a person is also more likely to undergo unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and consuming excessive alcohol, thus contributing to wound healing.

Treatment
Injuries in patients undergoing dialysis procedures, chemotherapy, treatment with corticosteroids or blood thinning drugs, tend to be more difficult to heal.

Disease
The process of wound healing is strongly influenced by blood flow and the role of white blood cells as part of the immune system. Diseases related to blood, such as anemia and vascular disease, can reduce blood supply to the wound tissue thereby slowing down the recovery process.
Diabetes is also one of the conditions that makes it difficult to heal wounds. Wounds in diabetics tend to be more difficult to heal. Even small wounds can get worse quickly and become a dangerous infection if not treated immediately. Foot injuries are the most common injuries in diabetics. In severe cases, foot amputation must be done so that the infection does not spread.

The slow wound healing process is caused by high blood sugar levels. Blood sugar that is too high will reduce blood flow, inhibit cells from getting nutrients and oxygen, disrupt the immune system, and increase the risk of inflammation. This condition will certainly hinder the process of wound healing.

The time needed for a wound to fully heal depends on the condition of the wound. The bigger, deeper, and dirtier the wound condition, the longer the healing process. If you have a serious injury or bleeding in a wound that does not stop, you should seek help from a doctor or health care provider and undergo wound care at the hospital.