Understanding proper wound healing is essential for everyone. This includes the knowledge about what is needed by a wound to heal. Encouraging sufficient amount of these necessary substances will enhance a proper wound healing. One of these is oxygen. All wounds need to breathe, and this is why we have long been told that keeping wounds exposed to the air is beneficial. In fact, what needed by wounds is not the oxygen we need to breathe—the one found in free air. Rather, it is the oxygen that comes from our blood supply.
Why exposing wounds to “breathe” is unnecessary?
While the wife’s tale has told us to open wounds to the air, many researches have proven that this might not be a good recommendation. This is caused by the fact that sufficient blood supply onto the wound site is going to provide all the oxygen needed for healing the wound. Hence, the oxygen needed by the wounds is not one found in the air. In fact, exposing wounds to free air for a long period will not make it “breathe”. Instead, it may cause the wounds to over-dry, killing newly-growth skin cells, and boost scab formation, which does not heal the wound, but inhibit its healing stages.
The role of oxygen in wound healing
In wound healing, the role of oxygen is obvious. Wound sites get this oxygen from blood supply pumped into the injury site. Blood carries nutrition and oxygen which are needed for wound recovery. Some important roles of oxygen in wound healing include:
- It kills bacteria and other harmful microorganism which may infest the wound site.
- Oxygen stimulates the creation of new blood vessels which are damaged during the injury. Limited oxygen supply, therefore, will inhibit some stages of wound healing to take place.
- Since oxygen has an ability of killing harmful bacteria in wound site, it plays a role of inhibiting infection. Infection is caused by bacterial infestation on the wound site, which is signed by abnormal inflammation, pain, bleeding, and discharge. Limited oxygen supply will not only leave bacteria infesting the wound site, but also inhibit infection treatment.
- It enhances collagen synthesis on the wound site. Collagen is the most important substance which has to exist to promote cells remodeling.
- It provides energy for the skin cells to reproduce and migrate.
- Sufficient oxygen level in wound will decrease the possibility of hypoxia occurrence—the condition where the injured area does not receive a sufficient amount of oxygen, which results in delay of healing process.
How to increase oxygen flow
In order to provide a sufficient oxygen supply, it is important that we do the things to stimulate its flow on the wound site. However, increasing oxygen supply in the bloodstream is not only gained by merely breathing. There are some other things to consider, such as:
- Stop smoking and reduce caffeine intake, since both of these may inhibit your blood supply to the wound site.
- Pay attention to your diets. Avoid foods which may trigger high blood pressure and blood sugar level. Thus, diabetic dietary plan will work best for wound healing. Avoid sugar consumption and increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables during wound healing process. Foods with high content of vitamin E and C work best for proper wound healing.
- Increase your light exercise level, which is beneficial in promoting blood supply to the wound site. However, avoid any exercises which cause discomfort to the wound site.
- Use a moist bandage and dressing for covering the wound site. It is important not to expose the wound to open air. Instead, cover it with wet-to-moist dressing during healing stages. Moist environment will enhance cell growth, which is needed by the wound site to heal. On the contrary, exposing the wound to open air will cause it to over-dry, which is not a good thing.
- Inhibit the formation of scabs by monitoring the wound and its dressing. Scabs will cause damages to the wound tissues, inhibiting the entire healing process. It is important to inhibit its formation during the stages to make sure proliferation stage is well-elapsed.