What do scars, scabs, and blisters mean?
It’s unlikely that you’ll ever meet someone who doesn’t have evidence of injury somewhere on their skin. Scars, scabs, callouses, bruises, and blisters are all indicators of damage — and healing. Our skin is remarkable, not only in its ability to protect, but also in its ability to recover from injury. So, what is actually happening when a wound heals?
Well, a lot is happening, as a matter of fact. Our skin, which serves as a barrier against the outside world and an encasement keeping everything in, goes through four stages when recovering from a wound: hemostasis, inflammation, proliferation, remodeling. Let’s dig a little deeper to get a better understanding of each.
Hemostasis: Simply put, this means that the wound stops bleeding. When the skin is broken, blood platelets and a protein called fibrin work together to form a clot at the site of the injury. The clot prevents further blood loss and ultimately dries to become a scab.
Inflammation: In this phase, blood-borne oxygen and white blood cells (macrophages) protect the wound, fight infection, and encourage new cell growth for repair.
Proliferation: It’s worth noting that these stages don’t exist sequentially. For example, proliferation — or growth and rebuilding — occurs continually throughout the healing process. Collagen and new tissue are generated through the communication of chemical signals and arrival of new, oxygen-rich red blood cells. This phase can occasionally result in a visible scar.
Remodeling: Also known as strengthening or maturation, this is when new tissue is getting stronger. A wound can be in this phase for weeks, months, or even years depending on its size, severity and location on the body. An injury on the bottom of your foot, for instance, may spend significantly more time in this stage than one on your eyebrow, which experiences far less external, physical contact than the foot. Stretching, peeling, itching and puckering may occur during remodeling.
Understanding this process is crucial if you want to provide the best possible environment and care for a healing wound. If you’d like to learn more about how to ensure quick and thorough recovery, please schedule a consultation with one of our caring Derick Dermatology professionals. We have offices to serve you in Arlington Heights, Barrington, Bartlett, Buffalo Grove, Crystal Lake, Elgin, Libertyville, Lindenhurst, McHenry, Park Ridge, Naperville, and soon in Oak Brook.