Healing Stages of Minor Wounds
Wound Healing Stages
There are three stages in which normal wound healing occurs.
- Inflammation: First, inflammation occurs as blood vessels constrict, making it difficult for fluid to return to the vascular system. Platelets do the tough work and create a chemical which builds clots and stop bleeding. Once bleeding has stopped, blood vessels are dilated again, allowing nutrients into the site of injury and old blood back into circulation to be processed.
- Proliferation: During this phase, the wound begins to rebuild with what is known as “granulation tissue.” Wound care nurses and doctors look for this tissue as a sign of normal wound healing and assess its colouration.
- Maturation: During the final stage of wound healing, the wound completely closes up. Although it may look as though the healing process is finished, it can take years for tissue under the skin to fully heal. The maturation process is in actuality, the longest phase of wound healing.
When something doesn’t seem right with your wound, it can be frightening. You may wonder whether you need to see a doctor or if your injury is healing the way that it should. Here are some wound complications you might see with your injury. If you see these, please seek medical advice:
- Delayed wound healing.
- Infections: look for signs of infection such as redness and pain at the site, swelling, flu-like symptoms, or an elevated temperature.
- Inadequate scar formation which could lead to dehiscence, a condition where the wound doesn’t completely close.
Slow Wound Healing
Most wounds heal on their own and won’t be an issue for healthy individuals. However, there are times when wound healing takes longer than expected or halts all together. This can cause many problems for the injured, including an increase in risk of infection, longer time spent in pain, and decreased mobility. Factors that delay wound healing include:
- Alcohol use
- Poor nutrition
- Some medications may slow the healing process.
Consult your doctor if you’re concerned that your medications are delaying healing.
¹ Guo SDiPietro L. Factors Affecting Wound Healing. Journal of Dental Research. 2010;89(3):219-229. doi:10.1177/0022034509359125.