We are often asked about the process our body goes through during the wound care process. This post is intended to provide a brief overview of how our complex and remarkable machine processes and repairs wounds. So how exactly does our body heal?
When the skin is injured, our body sets into motion an automatic series of events, often referred to as the “cycle of healing,” in order to repair the injured tissues. The cycle of healing is divided into these three overlapping phases: Hemostasis, Inflammatory and Proliferative.
Phase 1: Hemostasis Phase
Hemostasis, the first phase of healing, begins at the onset of injury, and the objective is to stop the bleeding. In this phase, the body activates its emergency repair system, the blood clotting system, and forms a dam to block the drainage. During this process, platelets come into contact with collagen, resulting in activation and aggregation. An enzyme called thrombin is at the center, and it initiates the formation of a fibrin mesh, which strengthens the platelet clumps into a stable clot.
Phase 2: Defensive/Inflammatory Phase
If Phase 1 is primarily about coagulation, the second phase, called the Defensive/Inflammatory Phase, focuses on destroying bacteria and removing debris—essentially preparing the wound bed for the growth of new tissue.
During Phase 2, a type of white blood cells called neutrophils enters the wound to destroy bacteria and remove debris. These cells often reach their peak population between 24 and 48 hours after injury, reducing greatly in number after three days. As the white blood cells leave, specialized cells called macrophages arrive to continue clearing debris. These cells also secrete growth factors and proteins that attract immune system cells to the wound to facilitate tissue repair. This phase often lasts four to six days and is often associated with edema, erythema (reddening of the skin), heat, and pain.
Phase 3: Proliferative Phase
Once the wound is cleaned out, the wound enters Phase 3, the Proliferative Phase, where the focus is to fill and cover the wound.
The Proliferative phase features three distinct stages: 1) filling the wound; 2) contraction of the wound margins; and 3) covering the wound (epithelialization).
During the first stage, shiny, deep red granulation tissue fills the wound bed with connective tissue, and new blood vessels are formed. During contraction, the wound margins contract and pull toward the center of the wound. In the third stage, epithelial cells arise from the wound bed or margins and begin to migrate across the wound bed in leapfrog fashion until the wound is covered with epithelium. The Proliferative phase often lasts anywhere from four to 24 days.
We hope that this post has been helpful in understanding at a high level, the cycle of healing. DermaWound is the leading wound care solution trusted by physicians and consumers around the globe. For more information, contact DermaWound at www.dermawound.com or contact us directly at 603-930-5567.
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