How Long Do Superficial Wounds Take to Heal?

A wound is any area of skin that has been torn or damaged. These include cuts, scrapes, abrasions, burns and lacerations (tears).

Most of the time, a cut or graze will heal within a few days if you take care of it at home with clean, dry skin and antibacterial ointment. Deeper lacerations may need stitches to close them up.

How Long Do Superficial Wounds Heal?

Most people think of the body as having a miraculous ability to repair all cuts and abrasions. But a wound that takes too long to heal or is infected could be a sign that something is wrong.

The first step in wound healing is stopping the bleeding, or hemostasis. This happens when blood cells clump together to form a clot that stops the bleeding, forms a scab and protects the wound. This process can happen in seconds or minutes after a wound is cut, punctured or scraped.

Next, the wound starts to become inflamed as the body flushes out bacteria and other harmful microbes from the site of the injury. Your body also sends specialized immune cells to the site to fight against infection.

Once your body is done flushing out the microbes, it begins to send out new blood cells that will carry the nutrients and oxygen needed for wound healing. These include oxygen-rich red blood cells and white blood cells that help get rid of dead skin cells.

During the second stage of wound healing, your body gets busy making new tissue to replace broken or missing skin. Your cells use chemical signals to create collagen, a kind of tough protein fiber that reconnects broken tissue and gives the skin its strength. The new tissue might look pink, wrinkled or stretched at the beginning of this stage but will eventually fade and flatten out to a duller color.

After a few weeks, your body will begin to build up the new tissue and make it stronger. You might notice itching, swelling or puckering of the wound and it may take a few months before you have a full-thickness, healthy scar that is almost as strong as your normal skin.

Your body will continue to grow and build new tissue for a couple of years, even after the scab has fallen off. It will be almost 80-90% of the strength of your normal skin, which is why a scar may remain.

How long a wound will take to heal is dependent on the severity of the injury, your age, overall health condition and other risk factors. For example, people with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, tend to have slow-healing wounds. They might take longer to heal because their bodies have trouble getting to the regeneration and rebuilding phase of the healing process.