A wound is an injury that cuts or breaks the skin. Although most wounds heal naturally with time, there are some ways to speed up the healing process.
A wound leaves the body’s internal tissues exposed to the external environment. Cuts, blows, or other impacts are common causes.
A person may be able to treat a minor wound at home. However, they should seek medical help if they have a more severe injury that involves broken bones or excessive bleeding.
Keep reading for more information on six things people can try to make their wounds heal faster, and when to see a doctor.
Please note, the methods outlined in this article are for cuts and scrapes that people can typically take care of at home. More serious, or deep wounds, will require medical attention.
A person with an open wound should always follow these steps:
- wash the hands with soap and clean water
- remove jewelry and clothing from around the wound
- apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding
- clean the wound with clean water and a saline solution once the bleeding has stopped
- examine the wound for foreign objects and dirt
- if possible, apply antibiotic ointment to the wound to prevent infection
- pat the wound dry with a clean cloth
- close the wound and apply an adhesive bandage or band-aid
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person should check their wound every 24 hours. This involves removing the bandages and checking for signs of infection. Afterward, they should disinfect the wound, dry it, and apply a clean adhesive bandage or band-aid.
A closed wound that is not sterile can trap bacteria and may cause further infections. Therefore, if a person has an unclean wound or a wound with an infection, they should leave it open until they can clean it, or the infection clears.
After treating a wound, several methods can promote healing.
The following are some alternative methods and remedies people can try to make wounds heal faster:
1. Antibacterial ointment
A person can treat a wound with several over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial ointments, which can help prevent infections. They can also help a wound heal more quickly.
One review of 27 animal model studies showed that antibacterial treatments played a positive role in helping wounds heal faster. However, the review noted that there was a high risk of bias in the findings.
People often use OTC antibacterial ointments for minor wounds, but they may not be necessary. A person may use petroleum jelly, which acts as a barrier to protect the wound beyond a waterproof bandage.
2. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is a plant belonging to the cactus family. It contains a substance that is rich in both vitamins and minerals.
Aloe vera contains glucomannan, a substance that helps cellular regeneration and causes the body to produce collagen. This substance is a protein that promotes wound healing.
A 2019 systematic review states that aloe vera and its compounds could improve wound healing. Overall evidence suggests it might be effective for wound healing of first and second degree burns. The review also indicates that aloe vera could help retain skin moisture and integrity while easing inflammation and preventing ulcers.
A person can apply a thin layer of aloe vera gel to the wound area. They can also dress the wound in a bandage soaked in aloe vera gel to help with healing.
A 2016 review states thatlaboratory research suggests honey significantly improves the healing rate of wounds in animals. It also says that it reduced scar formation and inhibited bacterial growth in acute wounds and burns.
In another study, honey appeared to heal partial thickness wounds better than other treatments, but caused more infections in post-operative wounds than typical treatments.
A person would need to use medical honey for minor and major wounds after discussion with a doctor or healthcare provider.
4. Turmeric paste
Turmeric is a spice that comes from the plant of the same name. It contains curcumin, which has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.
One 2016 review suggests that turmeric can be effective in helping wounds heal faster. It showed that the curcumin present in the spice stimulated the production of the growth factors involved in the healing process. It also showed that curcumin accelerated the management of wound restoration.
A 2019 review also showed that curcumin in turmeric could increase collagen production at the wound site. It also states that curcumin promoted the differentiation of fibroblasts into myofibroblasts, which starts the healing process and helps the wound heal more quickly.
A person can mix turmeric with warm water to make a paste. They can then apply the paste to the wound and cover it with a clean bandage.
If a person wishes to try turmeric for a wound, they should limit usage to closed, minor wounds. An open injury would require medical-grade products with a doctor’s approval.
Garlic contains the compound allicin, which has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
According to a 2020 review, several clinical trials have demonstrated the efficacy of garlic in treating wounds. It stated that in preclinical studies, aged garlic extract showed wound healing potential depending on the dosage.
A 2018 study looked at the use of garlic to treat wounds on rats. It revealed that an ointment containing 30% garlic promoted more proliferating fibroblasts when compared with petroleum jelly. Fibroblasts are an integral part of tissue repair, therefore, the use of garlic had a positive effect and helped the wound heal faster.
6. Coconut oil
Coconut oil contains the substance monolaurin, a fatty acid with antimicrobial properties. Fatty acids found in vegetable oils are assumed to play a large part in helping wounds heal. A person can use coconut oil on a wound to help reduce the risk of contracting an infection.
According to a 2010 study, virgin coconut oil can help wounds on rats heal quicker than those without the oil. A person can use the substance on a wound as a barrier to help reduce the risk of acquiring an infection.
A person can often treat minor wounds at home. However, in some instances, wounds need medical attention.
A person should seek care from a healthcare professional if they experience the following:
- a wound with large, deep, or jagged edges, which may require stitches and cleaning
- a wound that will not stay closed
- a wound that is full of debris that a person cannot remove
- wound resulting from an injury from a dirty, rusty, or contaminated object
- blood spurting from a wound
- a wound that continues to bleed, even after applying pressure
- a wound due to an animal or human bite
A person should also speak with a doctor if their wound has contracted an infection. Signs of a wound acquiring an infection include:
- aches and pains
- the area around the wound is warm
- the wound gives off a yellow or green discharge
- the wound emits an unpleasant odor
- red streaks appear on the skin around the wound
- fever and chills
A doctor will often use antibiotics to treat a wound with an infection. A person may also require a tetanus shot.
People should always complete the entire course of antibiotics, even if infection symptoms are no longer present. This treats the infection fully and prevents bacteria from becoming resistant to the antibiotic.
Minor open wounds may not require medical treatment. However, people should clean the wound and dress it using a clean bandage. An unclean wound may cause a bacterial infection to occur.
Once the wound is clean, there are several techniques to speed up the healing process. These include the use of antibacterial ointments, turmeric, aloe vera, garlic, and coconut oil.
A person should seek medical help right away if their wound is large. A doctor may use stitches to close the wound and ensure that it is clean.