Wound Healing - How the magic happens!
Wound healing is the body’s natural process for repairing damaged tissue. Your body is super clever, and knows exactly what to do, when you have a wound. When the skin is injured, the body’s immune system works to repair the damage by forming new tissue. This process can be divided into these key stages:
- Hemostasis: This is the first step in wound healing, and it involves stopping the bleeding. The blood vessels are constricted, to allow the body to start forming a blood clot. This happens very quickly, for most of use.
- Inflammation: The next stage in wound healing is inflammation, which occurs a few hours after the injury. The body sends white blood cells to the wound to help fight infection and clear away damaged tissue.
- Proliferation: During the proliferation stage, new cells are produced and the wound starts to close. This is when new blood vessels and collagen fibers are formed, and the edges of the wound start to pull together. At this stage of the wound healing process, you might start to experience itching around the wound site.
- Remodeling: In the final stage of wound healing, the body works to restore the strength and function of the tissue. This involves the formation of scar tissue, which is stronger but less flexible than normal tissue. The tissue that is produced at this stage, is not the same as normal, healthy skin. Often, too much collagen is produced, as part of a ‘rapid response’ to healing, which is why we are often left with thick, white scar tissue.
Overall, the wound healing process is complex and involves many different cells and chemical signals. It is an important part of the body’s natural defense against injury and infection. There are many factors that affect your body’s ability to heal – so we’ll have a look at 5 key areas to focus on, below.
5 Things we'll focus on
Here are the 5 things we’re going to cover in this blog about wound healing, to help your body heal in the best possible way!
- Nutrition – heal your skin from within.
- The importance of sleep for healing.
- Scar creams, when, what and how to use them.
- Managing stress levels.
- Boosting your immune system.
Wound healing is a magical process that the body naturally knows what to do. However, there are a number of things you can do, to ensure that you get the best possible healed results. As the largest organ of your body, your skin is hyper sensitive to every thing that goes on, from the outside in and inside out.
The importance of what you eat
10 food types to include in your diet for wound healing
1. Lean protein: Foods high in protein, such as chicken, turkey, fish, beans, and tofu, can help to repair and rebuild tissues – which is essential to healthy tissue repair and production.
2. Zinc-rich foods: Zinc is important for wound healing, and foods high in zinc include oysters, beef, chickpeas, blackberries, avocado, and pumpkin seeds.
3. Vitamin C-rich foods: Vitamin C is essential to collagen production, which is a protein that helps to hold tissues together. Aim to include oranges, strawberries, kiwi fruit, and bell peppers in your diet.
4. Iron-rich foods: Iron is needed to carry oxygen to cells, which is important for healing. Foods high in iron include red meat, poultry, beans, and leafy green vegetables.
5. Beta-carotene-rich foods: Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, which is important for skin health, and essential for collagen production. Aim to eat carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin (great anti-ageing foods too!).
6. Vitamin E-rich foods: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help to protect cells from damage. This is really important during wound healing. Foods high in vitamin E include almonds, sunflower seeds, and spinach.
7. Omega-3 fatty acids: These healthy fats can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing. Foods high in omega-3s include fatty fish, flaxseeds, and chia seeds. If you struggle to include these in your diet, consider a high quality, high strength supplement.
8. Folic acid-rich foods: Folic acid is important for cell division, which is necessary for wound healing. Foods high in folic acid include leafy green vegetables, beans, and nuts.
9. Collagen-rich foods: Collagen is a protein that helps to hold tissues together (think of it as glue), and is it extremely important for wound healing. Foods that contain collagen include bone broth, chicken, eggs, soy and certain types of fish (with the skin on).
10. Probiotic-rich foods: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut and can help to support the immune system. Foods that contain probiotics include fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. They can also help to reduce inflammation in the body, which helps to support wound healing.
The importance of sleep
I talk about the importance of sleep a LOT, and it really is so important, when it comes to wound healing. During sleep, the body repairs and regenerates tissues, including the skin. The body increases blood flow to the skin, during sleep. It helps to remove excess fluid and toxins, and to allow new, healthy cells to be produced. It’s called ‘beauty sleep’ for a reason.
Lack of sleep can have the opposite effect, as your cells aren’t able to regenerate and repair. This can affect how your skin heals, as well as leaving you with a weakened immune system, which can make the skin more susceptible to damage and infections.
In addition to the physical benefits of sleep for the skin, getting enough sleep can also help to reduce stress, which can have a positive impact on the skin. Stress can trigger the release of hormones that can lead to inflammation, which is not what we want during wound healing.
Ever noticed that sometimes you seem to heal from a wound better than others? Lack of sleep, or increase in stress may well be to blame!
The role of scar creams
I’ve written a whole other blog on the benefits of scar removal creams, and I’ll pop a link on the button below.
The reality is, that whilst they are called ‘scar removal’ creams, that simply isn’t true. Nothing will completely remove your scars, but using a good scar cream in the early stages can help to promote healthy skin healing, and reduce inflammation. The result is usually that the wound heals quicker, but they tend not to make a huge difference to the appearance of your scars.
Scar creams have very little benefit once the scar is past the 1 year mark. It simply can’t break out scar tissue. The two scar creams I recommend are RegimA Forte Scar & Stretchmark cream (make sure you don’t just get the stretchmark one), and Dermatix. Click on the button below for my blog on scar removal (improvement) treatments and advice.
Managing stress for wound healing
Stress can have a serious impact on your wound healing. When you’re stressed, your body produces stress hormones such as cortisol, which can interfere with the immune system’s ability to fight infection and repair damaged tissue. Stress can also cause changes in blood flow, which can affect the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the wound site. This can slow down wound healing, and actually affect the overall healing outcome.
Here’s 3 ways to reduce your stress levels:
Exercise: Physical activity can help reduce stress by releasing endorphins, and lower your stress hormone, cortisol. Try walking, yoga or some gentle stretching.
Practice relaxation techniques: Try a quick deep breathing exercise. Repeat 10 rounds of breathing in this pattern: breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4, breath out for 4 and hold for 4.
Get enough sleep: See the last point for more on this!!
Boosting your immune system
When it comes to wound healing, have a strong immune system is really important. The advice that I have already given, will help to support a healthy immune system, but here’s 5 easy tips for a stronger immune system:
Supplements: Supplements are not an alternative to a diet full of important nutrients, but supplementing with a high strength vitamin C, ideally containing zinc, will help to boost your immune system.
Balance your microbiome: 70% of your immune system is in your gut, so taking a probiotic, or a combined pre and probiotic can really help.
Water: Water is important for every cell in our body. It also helps to keep you hydrated and to flush out toxins from your body.
Spend time outside: Sunlight exposure helps the body to produce vitamin D, which is important for the immune system. Fresh air also allows helps to clear the lungs and improve circulation.
Avoid alcohol and tobacco: Both of these significantly weaken your immune system, particularly smoking. If your body is trying to recover from injury, then it needs to be as strong as possible.
Improving scars with treatment
As I previously mentioned, wound healing takes time. Time scales differ for everyone, and it may differ for you – depending on the type of wound, and your well being and lifestyle at the time. All of the tips here will help, and you can also download my Ultimate Scar Guide, via the button below.
Now, scar improvement treatments do exist, but the type and timing of these treatments is really important. In my opinion, treating too soon can have a detrimental effect on the natural healing process – although you will find some practitioners that will treat sooner, rather than later. I have found I’ve achieved much better results, treating after the initial wound healing phase.
The type of treatment is also crucial. Superficial surface level treatments, such as low level microneedling, microdermabrasion and skin peels just won’t cut it – no matter what you’re promised. Neither will creams or gels – they just can’t break down scar tissue. You need treatments that are targeted in the deeper layers of your skin, where the scar tissue can be broken down, and fresh, healthy cells can be generated. This takes time, and multiple treatments are required.
You can download my Ultimate Scar Guide, via the button below.
I hope you’ve found my blog on wound healing helpful.
You might also find my blog on scar revision treatments helpful too. I’ll pop a link below, so just click on the button to read it. If you’d love to improve your scars, once and for all, then please get in touch.
My aesthetics clinic is based in Alton, Hampshire. I am on the Hampshire/Surrey border, 15 minutes from Basingstoke and Farnham. I’m also at the end of a direct line from London Waterloo, and a 5 minute walk from the station.
If you have any questions at all, then click on the ‘get in touch’ button. If your scar is over one year old, you can also book a consultation with me HERE.
I look forward to hearing from you. Best, Nikki