About wound healing
Wound healing is the process of repair that follows injury to the skin and other soft tissues.
Wounds may result from trauma or from a surgical incision. In addition, pressure ulcers (also known as decubitus ulcers or bed sores), a type of skin ulcer, might also be considered wounds. The capacity of a wound to heal depends in part on its depth, as well as on the overall health and nutritional status of the individual.
Following injury, an inflammatory response occurs and the cells below the dermis (the deepest skin layer) begin to increase collagen (connective tissue) production. Later, the epithelial tissue (the outer skin layer) is regenerated. Dietary modifications ...view middle of the document...
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include swelling, stiffness, tenderness, discoloration, skin tightness, scabbing, itching, and scar formation.
Over-the-counter topical antibiotic combinations using neomycin, bacitracin (BaciguentÂ®), and polymyxin B (NeosporinÂ®, PolysporinÂ®) are used to treat skin infections and promote wound healing.
Prescription strength topical antibiotics, such as metronidazole (MetroGelÂ®) and mupirocin (BactrobanÂ®), might be necessary to treat infection and promote healing.
Other treatment includes keeping the wound clean, dry, and covered. Surgical treatments, such as stitches and removal of damaged tissue, may be recommended.
Dietary changes that may be helpful
Building and repairing tissue requires adequate amounts of calories and protein to fuel the repair mechanisms, as the skin and underlying tissues are made of protein. While major wounds from extensive injuries or major surgery significantly raise protein and calorie requirements, optimal healing of minor wounds should not require changes from a typical, healthful diet.1 In a study of malnourished people with skin ulcers, those who were given a diet containing 24% protein showed a significant reduction in the size of the ulcer, whereas those given a diet containing 14% protein had no significant improvement.2 This study suggests an increase in dietary protein can improve wound healing in malnourished people. It is not known whether the same benefit would be observed in well-nourished people.
Vitamins that may be helpful
Supplementation with bromelain, an enzyme derived from pineapple stem, prior to and following a surgical procedure has been shown to reduce swelling, bruising, healing time, and pain.3 Bromelain supplementation has also been shown to accelerate the healing of soft-tissue injuries in male boxers.4 The amount of bromelain used in these studies was 40 mg four times per day, in the form of enteric-coated tablets. Enteric-coating prevents the stomach acid from partially destroying the bromelain. Most currently available bromelain products are not enteric-coated, and it is not known if such products would be as effective as enteric-coated bromelain.
Thiamine (vitamin B1),5 pantothenic acid (vitamin B5),6 and other B vitamins7 have all been shown to play a role in wound healing in animal studies. For this reason, although human research is lacking, some alternative healthcare practitioners recommend a high-potency B vitamin supplement to promote wound healing.
Vitamin C is needed to make collagen (connective tissue) that strengthens skin, muscles, and blood vessels and to ensure proper wound healing. Severe injury appears to increase vitamin C requirements,8 and vitamin C deficiency causes delayed healing.9 Preliminary human studies suggest that vitamin C supplementation in non-deficient people can speed healing of various types of wounds and trauma, including surgery, minor injuries, herniated intervertebral discs, and...