Wounds are of numerous types-from a simple cut on a finger to a ghastly gash anywhere on the body. Although knowledge of first-aid is essential for attending to accident injury in an emergency, yet a thorough understanding of the process of wound healing and other accompanying factors can play a significant role in better wound management.
Wound healing is a complex phenomenon which depends upon a number of factors. It is amazing to note that the natural process of healing gears into action as soon as the injury arises-which could either be an internal injury with bleeding occurring inside the wound site or an external one with the blood oozing out of the open wound.
Bleeding occurs when a blood vessel is damaged. If the vessel is internal, blood seeps into surrounding tissue, and a breeze forms. It has been observed by Doctors that minor bleeding causes no harm because the body soon stops it, by means of three mechanisms that act together:
i. The nearby blood vessels contract and restrict the flow of blood to the area of the wound.
ii. The platelets in the blood gather where the blood vessels are damaged and stick to the vessel walls and to each other to form a plug.
iii. In addition, interlacing strands of material called fibrin form in the damaged area. Blood cells are trapped in the fibrin mesh and form a clot that seals the break and effectively stops the bleeding.
In sharp contrast, when the bleeding is occurring out of an open wound, the healing process primarily involves three phrases-which may or may not overlap each other. These healing phases are widely known as:
(a) Inflammatory phase;
(b) Proliferative phase; and
(c) Remodeling phase. Each phase is being discussed as follows:
(a) Inflammatory Phase: This phase gears into action as soon as the injury occurs and lasts for approximately five days. The natural clotting mechanism springs into action and platelets (minute bodies in blood) gather to stop the bleeding. After about 24 hours, debridement (removal of damaged or infected tissues) starts due to the action of enzymes-and dead tissues, bacteria and unwanted elements are removed from the wound site. The natural process also allows the passage of beneficial fluids from the blood vessels to the wound. Simultaneously, new blood vessels and tissues begin to form.
(b) Proliferative Phase: This phase begins during the first three weeks of the injury. Different types of cells and collagen (a protein which is a major component of a connective tissue) start to settle in the wound. Granulation (formation of small elevations on the wound surface) occurs in this phase. The wound's opening closes down after it is covered with a new ephthelial layer.
(c) Remodeling Phase: Depending upon the magnitude and gravity of the wound, this last phase may continue up to two years. In this phase, the body is in the process of regaining its original stature which is marred by the formation of a scar at the site of the wound.
It is relevant to point out that while the natural repair process automatically engages into repairing the injured site, there are certain conditions which either hinder or help the healing process. Injuries suffered by a diabetic patient take a very long time to heal-more specifically if the blood sugar is not properly controlled.
On the other hand, proper nutrition specifically helps in speeding up the healing process. The body needs adequate amounts of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals to tone up the immune system to fight back the germs at the site of the wound. Good nutrition does not necessarily implicate any special kind of diet. A balanced diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean meat in the right proportions is all that is required for maintaining a healthy body capable of resisting the onslaught of the maladies.