Wound healing refers to the natural process taken by the body to repair damaged tissue. This can include healing of scrapes, puncture wounds, or wounds inflicted by another organism, as in the case of a spider bite. Most minor injuries can be effectively healed by the body itself, but some more severe wounds may need the aid of stitches or another preventative measure.
The process of healing is a complex one, although it is not possible to see what happens from the outside. When a wound first occurs, the body begins to tighten the blood vessels around the injury. This helps to restrict blood flow so that excessive bleeding doesn’t occur. With most small wounds this is no problem, but large wounds may still bleed out because the body cannot constrict the vessels fast enough to prevent blood loss. Additional emergency proceedings, such as tying a cloth around the area to cut off the flow of blood to the area, may be needed.
Once blood flow is slowed, platelets form around the opening of the wound and bind together in order to form a clot. Additional substances join the clot to keep it from shifting or becoming detached. This covers the wound to prevent additional bleeding and to prevent foreign matter from entering the wound.
The next step in wound healing helps to prevent the wound from becoming infected. In human beings, an anti-bacterial solution can be added to aid in this process, but the body also has natural mechanisms to help prevent infection. Since the wound is now scabbed over and closed, the blood vessels reopen to allow more red and white blood cells to enter the area. White blood cells then act to find and kill any bacteria that may have entered the wound.
Finally, wound healing involves the reconstruction of tissue and skin. Skin from each side of the wound beneath the scab eventually stretches outward to meet in the center of the wound. This sometimes results in a visible scar, depending on how severe the wound was. The tissue covering the wound becomes stronger over time, and eventually the scab tissue will fall off or reabsorb into the body.
Some instances may require additional help with wound healing. Very serious injuries, such as a stab wound which enters deep into the body, may require medical assistance in order to prevent infection, close the wound, and prevent bleeding. In addition to the body’s natural healing process, antibiotics, stitches, and blood clotting medications may need to be administered.