HOW THE SKIN REPAIRS ITSELF
Wound repair is a complex process that occurs in several, overlapping phases.
The layers of normal skin form a protective barrier against the external environment.
Once the skin is broken, the process of wound repair is set in motion.
It has 3 phases: inflammatory, proliferation and maturation.
Phase 1 – Inflammatory Phase (0 to 3 days after injury)
Within minutes of the wound occurring the inflammatory phase is activated. The body activates protective measures to clot the wound and form a plug. In this phase, debris and bacteria are removed and the wound is cleansed by breaking down the damaged tissue.
Once the clot starts to get hard and dry out, a scab is formed. The scab protects the wound giving the skin underneath a chance to repair as it moves into the proliferation phase. Removing scabs too early will disrupt the newly regenerated tissue growing underneath and cause more skin damage, resulting in a larger scar. Protect the scab and wound by keeping them covered and moist.
Phase 2 – Proliferation Phase (1 to 24 days after injury)
This phase begins with skin cells working to lay down a foundation for wound repair. Collagen is deposited to strengthen the wound and new cells migrate across the foundation tissue to close the wound. If a scab is present, it will loosen and fall off.
In this phase the wound contracts and reduces in size. A large wound can become 40% to 80% smaller after contraction.
Phase 3 – Maturation Phase (14 to 365 days after injury)
Maturation is the final phase when scar tissue is formed. A stronger type of collagen is laid down to replace the initial collagen that is now degrading. These new collagen fibres are aligned in one direction as opposed to a random basket weave formation found in normal tissue. This difference in the composition of scar tissue gives scars a different appearance, texture and flexibility to normal skin.