Is it better to bandage a wound or leave it uncovered when it is healing?
Got a pretty bad cut on my arm from a tree branch the other day. If I want it to heal quickly, is it better to cover the cut with a bandage or leave it uncovered?
It turns out that the myth that drying out a wound by exposing it to the air and allowing to scab over will cause faster healing just will not go away! Fortunately, this issue has been investigated scientifically, and it is now conclusively demonstrated that a covered wound heals faster than an uncovered wound! This is because the scab, although it closes off the wound and protects it from infection, actually impedes the growth of new skin cells in to cover the wound. Therefore, the best way to protect a wound and to guarantee that it heals well is to cover it with a thin film of anti bacterial ointment or petroleum jelly. This creates a protective layer which keeps the air out, prevents extensive scabbing, and speeds up the migration and growth of new skin cells into the area. The application of the occlusive barrier (petroleum jelly, anti microbial ointment) is the real key here. Slapping a bandage on the area doesn't have quite the same effect on its own; although it does keep the area moist, it may also allow newly forming tissue to stick to the bandage. I recommend talking to your primary care doctor for more information.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.