How long it takes for a cut to heal has no definite answer because it depends on many factors and each individual. It can take from several days to a few years. However, if you do the right things from the beginning, you should be able to speed the healing process. Learn about the factors affecting cut healing and get some advice to speed up the healing process.
How long does it take for a cut to heal?
Light cuts usually heal in about a week. However there is not definite answer and it could take much more time even for a minor cut. Time for healing a cut is variable and it depends on each individual. The smaller the wound, the quicker it will heal. If your cut is large and deep, it will take more time to heal.
What are the factors affecting cut healing time?
Lot's of factors can affect cut healing. It mainly depends on:
The size of the cut:
Large and deep cuts take a longer time to heal. If it is too deep and large, stitches or steri-strip may be needed otherwise the cut won't heal well on its own.
If there is an infection that is going to slow down the healing.
Wound healing time increases with age.
Location of the cut:
Areas that move or are more sensitive require more time to heal.
Some medications can affect the healing process (medications which interfere with clot formation, platelet function, inflammatory responses and cell proliferation).
Studies have demonstrated that psychological stress causes a substantial delay in wound healing.
Smoking and alcohol:
Studies have shown that people who smoke show a delay in wound healing and an increase in a variety of complications such as infections. Alcohol also impairs wound healing and increases the incidence of infection.
Nutrition has been recognized as an essential factor that can affect wound healing and patients with non-healing wounds often require special nutrients.
Other health problems can slow down cut healing:
For example, diabetes and obesity are common causes of slow wound healing. Problems with the blood circulation system can affect wound healing because the tissues do not get the required supply of oxygen and nutrients.
Doing the right things from the beginning to heal faster
This means evaluate the severity of the injury. Medical treatment is required when:
- There are still remaining debris that could infect the wound.
- The cut doesn’t stop bleeding.
- It is deep and large.
- An infection ensues.
- The cut is located on sensitive skin.
In any case, it is important to focus on reducing the bleeding and avoiding infection as soon as possible to speed the healing process:
- Apply pressure on the cut to stop the bleeding.
- Wrap a cloth or a compress around it (this cloth should be absorbent and sterile – at least clean).
- Continue to apply pressure on the cut with your hand.
- Raise the injured part above the level of the heart. It reduces bleeding.
- When the bleeding is controlled, apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel until it begins to feel numb. This helps constrict blood vessels.
- You may consider taking some arnica pills to stop excessive bleeding and speed healing.
What to do when a scrape oozes? (article on Optiderma.com)
Is it better to bandage a wound or leave it uncovered?
It is advisable to protect cuts with a bandage to prevent infection and irritation. Studies show that a covered wound heals faster than an uncovered wound! The goal is to create a protective layer to keep the air out, prevent extensive scabbing, and speed up the growth of new skin cells. It is recommended to apply an antimicrobial ointment to avoid the newly forming tissue to stick to the bandage. Please talk to your doctor for more information.
What to do to accelerate healing?
Ensure the wound is clean before application of any external treatments. Washing the wound well with soap and water – at least for several minutes. The wound should be always be clean but don’t use chemical soap because you don’t want it to dry out.
Calendula has been shown to help wounds heal faster, possibly by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the affected area, which helps the body grow new tissue. It is also used to improve skin hydration and firmness. Calendula gel is used to treat cuts, scrapes, wounds, rashes and skin irritations.
To accelerate healing, there are other herbs that fight bacterial infection. Comfrey, Gotu Kola, Bayberry, Goldenseal, Echinacea, Chamomile, and St John’s Wort Oil are popular ones.
Lavender essential oil or tea tree oil can also accelerate the healing process. Visit this page if you are interested in learning how you can use it for cuts.
You can read this interview with Naturopathic Doctor Danny O'Rawe who explains how to use essential oils to heal a cut.
How to support healing with nutrition?
Nutrients are important to speed up the healing process. Eating the right diet can have an effect on how long a cut takes to heal. It is recommended to eat vitamin rich, fresh, raw vegetables and fruits. They provide enzymes to boost your immune system. Dark green and orange vegetables contain beta-carotenes, which are important to speed up healing. Also, limit dairy products, sugar and white flour, since they slow down tissue regeneration.
Protein is one of the most important nutrient factors affecting wound healing. A deficiency of protein can impair healing. Sources of proteins are meat, fish, eggs, seeds, nuts, legumes, grains like quinoa. Dairy products are a good source of proteins, but they are not recommended as explained above.
As for supplementation:
- Vitamin C, Bioflavanoids, and Vitamin A to promote healing and fight infection. Vitamin C has many roles in wound healing, and a deficiency in this vitamin has multiple effects on tissue repair.
- Vitamin E. It has anti-inflammatory properties and has been reported to have a role in decreasing excess scar formation in cuts.
How long for a scar to heal?
Most of the time, a scar forms as healing continues. If you only injured the top layer of skin, you may not have a scar. A scar is more likely to form if your cut is deep and large. The scar may disappear completely, but this can take as long as two years. There are scars that never go away completely!
Wound healing is complex, and there can be many causes why it does not happen properly. In spite of all you can do, a cut - even minor - can take a long time to heal. If this is the case, there may be some more severe underlying problem that can lead to dangerous complications. Always consult your doctor for non-healing cuts. Slow-to-heal cuts may need extra care from your doctor.
In the video below, Dr. Karen Evans answers commonly asked questions about wound healing, including the recovery time and benefits of new wound healing techniques:
How to heal wounds faster? (article on Optiderma.com)