Wound care is an essential part of nursing. Understanding the wound healing process is the key to accurately assessing wounds and choosing the right wound dressing for your patients.
It all begins with the skin. It’s the largest organ of the human body which plays the role of a barrier against bacteria, as well as heat and cold. A wound means there is a damage/injury to the skin. In response, our body begins the three-staged process of wound healing straight away.
Stage 1 is called the INFLAMMATORY phase. This is the time when the bleeding stops and a blood clot, also knows as fibrin, begins to form in order to prevent blood loss. Depending on the depth and size of the wound, the inflammatory phase may last from a few hours to a few days in severe cases. During this phase the injured area may become red, swollen, warm and very tender or painful. This is partly due to the fact that a process known as phagocytosis (white blood cells eat invasive bacteria) has begun to prevent infection.
Stage 2 is called the PROLIFERATIVE phase which is when your body is working to repair the damaged skin area. This means cells divide to fix all injured tissues and blood vessels as the wound begins to close. Oxygen and vitamin C are necessary nutrients at this stage. Also, collagen ( a protein that forms connective tissue) and granulation tissue is formed to help the process. This phase lasts from a few days to a few weeks.
Stage 3 is the final REMODELLING phase when the newly formed collagen begins to restore the functions of the cells. This is the point where the collagen is remodelled and becomes stronger and more dense. This stage lasts from a few weeks to a few months.
It is important to remember that the wound healing stages overlap one another and very often scars or discolorations are the final result of the whole process. The skin after the wound has healed will be slightly less elastic and functional compared to the skin before the injury. The quality of the recovery depends on different factors, such as the severity of the injury, the nutrition available, any chronic conditions of the patient (for example, patients with diabetes experience a slower wound healing process), environmental factors, care provided for the wound and medications.
The digital drawings are created by me, while the information is based on notes from lectures. 🙂 Thanks for reading! Comment and share if you learned something new.