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Keep Wounds Moist or Dry?

Keep Wounds Moist or Dry?

Is it better to keep a wound moist or let it dry out in the air?  There’s a lot confusion about it. In fact, the notion that it aids the healing process to let wounds such as minor cuts and scrapes dry out in the air is still widespread.

But this assumption is incorrect. As various studies have demonstrated over the past decades.

Read on to find out why it’s best to keep a wound moist. *

And about the best way to take care of a wound and how to keep it from scarring (or at least minimize the risk).

[update] * As commenters point out, the choice of moist vs dry wound healing largely depends on which part of the body a wound is located. Some areas benefit from letting wounds scab. As always, follow the advise of your doctor for your particular situation.

What You May Not Know About Scabbing..

Scabs slow the wound healing process. When wounds are kept exposed to the air they will dry and form a scab.

The purpose of the scab is to protect the wound from environmental contamination. But, at the same time, scabbing has some disadvantages.
A scab forms a barrier to the generation of new tissue. Studies have shown that under influence of scabbing the regenerative wound healing processes take more time, thus increase the risk on scarring.

“”Moisture prevents the formation of a hard scab, which acts as a barrier to the development of new tissue,”

source: dermatologist Bruce Katz, M.D., associate clinical professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Scabs Inhibit Quick Healing

Scabs are blockades. They block the skin’s process of creating new cells and tissue. Or as quoted by a dermatologist:

“Grass doesn’t grow well under a rock; skin cells don’t grow well under a scab.”


Wide Misconception

A poll on another website of mine showed that of the 448 people who voted, 69% thought that it’s best for a scrape or cut to dry and scab. Of these people 30% already knew a moist and clean environment makes a wound heal quicker.


Why Keep a Wound Moist?

Wounds heal faster and better when kept moist. The first scientist to discover the benefits of keeping a wound moist was George D. Winter.

In 1962 he found out that the regrowth (epithelialization) of skin would proceed twice as fast in a moist environment than under a scab.
He demonstrated this in a controlled study in which wounds covered with a film dressing healed in about 12 to 15 days while similar wounds exposed to the air healed in about 25 to 30 days.

“Our body’s cells need moisture to survive”


Benefits of Moist Wound Healing

The benefits of moist wound healing

  • Wounds heal up to 50% faster
  • There’s less (risk on) infection
  • removal of wound dressings is painless and newly formed tissue will remain intact
  • less scar tissue thus better cosmetic appearance.


Optimal Wound Healing

“Moist wound healing is considered the ideal environment for optimal wound healing,”

said Patricia Burns, RN, CWOCN Certified Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurse (professional nurse certification).

“The development and use of advanced wound care dressings enhances the body’s natural defenses and healing processes to improve healing outcomes and contributes to improved patient comfort.”

More wound and scar treatment tips (infographic) .

Another Study Proving Benefits of Moist Wound Healing

“Wounds in wet, moist, and dry environments were completely epithelialized * on days 6, 7, and 8, respectively.


* = To become covered with epithelial tissue, as of a wound.

Why You Should Be Cautious With Gauze Dressings

Gauze dressings are so common. We are used that when we are wounded we clean the wound and put a gauze on it. But recent research shows that there are some major disadvantages to gauze when compared with moist wound dressings. Here’s why.

  • Gauze dressings dry out the wound surface, delay wound healing, involve more wound pain, and contribute to scar creation.
  • They interfere with the wound healing process because the cells in our body need moisture to survive and to move across the wound surface.
  • Studies show there’s also a bigger risk on infection with gauze dressings.
  • Because gauze dressings absorb wound exudate  frequent dressing changes are needed. Due to the dry air around the wound bed they tend to stick to the wound bed which results in painful dressing removal and damage the newly formed tissue.


How To Keep Wounds Moist

So how do we keep wound moist? By covering them with dressings. In fact, there are several ways to provide this ideal, moist wound healing environment.

Probably the most low-cost remedy is to use petroleum jelly (Vaseline). Some antibiotic creams and ointments are also moist inducing but prolonged use isn’t recommended because of side effects.

More convenient treatments are hydrogel dressings and hydrocolloid dressings because once they are applied they can stay in place for two days ore more.

So called foam dressings aren’t appropriate for minor wounds because:

“Wounds with minimal drainage won’t benefit from a foam dressing because the dressing may dry out the wound and decrease the moist healing environment.” Source:



Benefits of Putting Vaseline on Wounds

Did you know that petroleum jelly (Vaseline) keeps bacteria out and moist in?

According to studies have shown that Vaseline (petroleum jelly) isn’t absorbed by the skin and has no medicinal effect. Vaseline’s effectiveness in accelerating wound healing is thought to stem from its sealing effect on cuts, scrapes, and burns.

The occlusion inhibits bacteria and other contamination from getting into the wound. It also stops the skin’s moisture from evaporating which is thought to keep the injured area supple. Which is probably the explanation of Vaseline’s excellent moisturizing properties.


Honey as a Wound Dressing

Susan Mendez-Eastman is a research nurse for the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing and is certified in both wound care and plastic surgical nursing.


“Many of the practices throughout the centuries have come full circle – proving to be scientifically sound by today’s standards. In ancient Egyptian practice, which was surprisingly modern for its time, they treated many wounds with honey and oil.

Modern medicine has revealed that honey does have some antibacterial properties and oil kept the wounds moist. So, with that said, the history of wound care includes many variations on the same types of treatments. History does repeat itself through the ages; the proven traditional remedies come back to us with modern names and marketing programs, and hopefully scientific evidence of efficacy.” source:

The Secret of Using Honey To Keep Wounds Moist

Honey, especially manuka honey, is a great way to hydrate damaged skin tissue. But it has various other advantages.

The past decades many clinical trials and other studies on the effectiveness of honey in wound care have been conducted. This research shows that the moist environment created by honey kills bacteria and hastens wound healing.

Infections are prevented and when already existing, cleared rapidly. Bad wound odor is removed quickly, and swelling and pain are reduced considerably. Indirect result of these enhanced wound healing aspects is minimal scarring.


Medical Grade Wound Honey

are FDA approved class 1 medical devices. These dressings and wound paste contain sterilized manuka honey. This is a unique type of honey endemic to New Zealand.

The use of these dressings and honey have shown to cure allegedly incurable wounds. There’s a vast amount of studies showing the extraordinary properties of this natural wound healing agent.

Why Use Topical Antibiotics for Wounds Moderately

Its use has some downsides, use it moderately and if possible only on fresh wounds.

Prolonged use of topical antibiotics on wounds may cause skin irritation and could possibly worsen a wound. Antibiotic ointments, such as Neosporin, should not be used longer than a few days. Also because of the chance on wound bacteria getting resistant to the antibiotics they are encouraged to use in moderation.


“Topical antibiotics work best when they are used only to prevent infection in a fresh wound, not to treat an infection that has already started.”

“Another common mistake is applying antibiotic ointments. These ointments may keep the wound moist, he said, but they can also lead to swelling and an allergic reaction called contact dermatitis.”

said Dr. Mark D. P. Davis, a professor of dermatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Source: see link below.

More information on topical antibiotics for wounds on


Hydrocolloid Wound Dressings

Occlusive hydrocolloid dressings form a protective barrier restraining environmental pollution from entering a wound. These dressings also lower the pH of a wound. This acidic environment inhibits bacterial growth.

Contrary to manuka honey dressings, hydrocolloid dressings can’t be used in case of an infected wound.  Read more about the benefits of hydrocolloid wound dressings.

Hydrocolloids provide effective occlusion; with dry wounds, they can have a softening effect, and they have been used to prevent the spread of MRSA (by providing a physical occlusive barrier).”

Reference: Thomas, S., Hydrocolloids Journal of Wound Care 1992:1;2, 27-30

The best selling hydrocolloid wound dressings on Amazon are made by .


How Hydrogel Dressings Amazed Me..

Recently I fell off my bike onto the street (don’t ask). I hit the tiles hard with my nose and my right hand folded double.

Apart from a little fracture in my finger I also had three nasty scrapes on the part where the finger bends (closest to the fingernail). As you know there´s relatively soft, cushy skin there. The scrapes were rather deep and I just missed whole parts of the skin. I was a bit worried about it healing well.

At first I just let the wounds dry in the air. Later on I saw those big crusts forming and the wounds were healing very slowly. So I bought hydrogel strips (wound plasters from Geoplast) and put these on my wounds. Hydrogel dressings are designed to maintain a moist environment.

After wearing them a day or so the surrounding skin had turned white(ish) and the crusts had dissolved into yellow stuff. This appeared to be an infection but I realized it was just the residue of the dissolved crusts. So no worries, I decided to keep wearing the hydrogel strips.

After a few days I really noticed improvement. The wound surface had become much smaller. The surrounding skin seemed to have grown towards the center (where the crusts previously were). The damaged area was also less deep. So I am really satisfied by using moist inducing wound strips.

I already knew this from reading about it but now I have experienced it myself. From now on I will keep my more severe wounds moist.

If I’m correct hydrogel dressings are roughly the same as hydrocolloid dressings. (hydrocolloid dressings are more suitable for exudating wounds) The hydrogel strips I bought in my local drugstore were only 5 bucks. Maybe you can find them in your area as well.

“Odland first observed in 1958 that a blister healed faster if left unbroken.”

Slowly Healing Wound?

If you are prone to slow wound healing you could benefit from using nutritional supplements. Especially people who suffer from malnutrition (lack of the appropriate nutrients in the body.) have to deal with wounds that won’t heal or heal slowly. Adding the missing nutrients by taking supplements can significantly boost the healing process.


“Exposing a Cut so it Can Breathe Slows Healing”

NY Times logoAt the New York Times they also know about the benefits of moist wound healing.

Most parents and school nurses have a time-honored approach to treating a small wound: clean it up, stop the bleeding and then let it get some air.

The point of this approach, as described in medical texts, is to lower the odds of infection and to speed the healing process. But over the years, researchers have found that what many people know about treating small cuts and scrapes is wrong. Read more here:


Keeping Scrapes Covered

girl with scrape on knee

Apart from cuts, scrapes also benefit when kept moist. What exactly is a scrape? In dermatology, a scrape is a mild abrasion. This is a wound caused by superficial damage to the skin, no deeper than the epidermis. Bleeding, if present, is minimal. Most scrapes (or grazes), do not scar or bleed, but deep abrasions may lead to the formation of scar tissue. Other denominations are; road rash, scratch, abrasion, or laceration.

Here are a few simple steps to follow in order to optimize scrape healing.

Photo by | via Flickr

1. Clean The Scrape

Stop the bleeding, remove debris, wash the wound.

The first step is to stop the bleeding (if present). Minor scrapes usually stop bleeding after a few minutes. If not so gentle pressure can be applied with a bandage or clean cloth. Keep it on for a while (about 10 minutes) because repeatedly removing the bandage to watch if the bleeding has stopped will only keep the blood coming.

After that the scrape should be cleaned with a mild soap or saline. Debris, dirt also has to be removed from the wound bed.

2. Topical Antibiotic Prevents Infection of Scrape

first aid to help prevent infection in scrapes

A topical antibiotic (e.g. Bacitracin or Neosporin) can be applied to prevent infection and to keep the wound moist. There are also special Band-Aids with antibiotic ointment on them available.

“Neosporin helps to minimize the appearance of scars, based on a clinical study comparing the appearance of treated and untreated minor abrasions.”


Personally, I never use antibiotic ointments. Just because I am not prone to infections. In case you fell on the street and debris have entered the wound it may be wise to use a topical antibiotic. But use it sparsely.

I did use hydrogel dressings recently on three scrapes on my fingers. Due to the bike accident I talked about earlier I had some nasty abrasions on my fingers. (The parts where they bend and the soft, wrinkled skin tissue is.) Since the scrapes healed slowly I bought some hydrogel dressings to put on them. I did notice improvement and the fact that they were covered also felt more comfortable.

3. Occlusive Dressings for Scrapes

Creams, ointments, films, and dressings.

There are various hydrogel wound dressings available on Amazon but it may be wise to check your local drugstore first. Some come in ointments, others are in sheet/ film form. They seal out water, germs, and dirt.

Hydrogel dressings are suitable for dry to mild exudating wounds and for blisters. For wounds with more exudate,hydrocolloid dressings are better suitable.

52 Responses to Keep Wounds Moist or Dry?

  1. From my experience I would say this is only half right. Perhaps it is due to the fact that few health care providers have ever played sports where abrasions are common. As a young man, many years ago, I played baseball and soccer where sliding is common (I stole lots of bases in baseball). From my experience treating abrasions for years, the first thing you needed to do was stop the oozing and that means drying it out first. Alcohol, iodine and hydrogen peroxide will dry out an abrasion and stop it from oozing in a day or two (and yes it stings so take your time doing it a little by little) if you leave it uncovered.

    As long as an abrasion oozes, it will hurt, and not heal.

    So I think drying it out initially is the fastest way to heal an abrasion, and once it is dried out and scabbed over, then and only then, should you cover it and keep it moist.

    It is quite similar in principal to stopping the swelling of an injury, by icing it or pressurizing it first, before you apply heat.

    • David your anecdotal evidence doesn’t prove anything. Research studies and health care providers don’t need to reference athletics to achieve validity. Obviously you are just a wannabe doctor whose education level does not match his ego.

    • I think you have confused cleaning a wound with drying it out. Cleaning of a wound is essential and moisture is essential from well written studies to aid full repair, and that means using a dressing that is both moist *and* protective.

    • I agree because although a dried out wound may not heal faster, in order to stay active and continue playing sports scabbing will prevent the wound from hurting and continually oozing. And you don’t need to be a doctor to make this observations.

    • I agree with you David, it all comes down to which part of the world as to which “scientific evidence” you believe. I run and hike a lot, scrapes and bruises galore, common sense to what works for you and knowing your own body’s way of recovery is what ultimately works. I swear by applying raw honey, aloe and letting it air dry.

      • No, David IS incorrect…this is basic physiological facts…and, these techniques ARE used by Cosmetic Surgeons and Burn Care doctors world wide, who have the goal to speed healing AND prevent as much scarring as possible….

        Soccer players and runner/hikers, great ‘stories’ but not how epithelial tissue healing happens.

        • Another problem is the use of hydrogen peroxide which damages all cells and slows the progression of healing. Best to clean with mild soap and water and follow up with a moist dressing for fastest healing.

  2. This site was full of updated information that clarified a few things I have heard over the years. It is much appreciated.
    And thank you David Mills for your input as well.
    My recent “scrape” was like the upper layer of skin being peeled off. As shallow as it was, it bled profusely at first. Rinsing with a combination of water and a few splashes of hydrogen peroxide were my first instinct to clean it off, and to stop it from bleeding. Then afterwards, a little Neosporin with a snug bandaid. A little later, I removed the bandaid, and I was worried about the bandaid stealing the healing properties away from my scrape because it had absorbed so much. Encouraging the scrape to become moist again with its own healing properties, I even squeezed its sides gently. Then, I let it “retain” this for a bit with a very loose bandaid just to cover the scrape to shield it from being touched by anything else, but the bandaid was not touching the scrape. When I checked it a little later, it was a little shiny as though it had only just begun to dry. This is when I finally felt comfortable to cover it with ample Neosporin and bandage it to keep it moist. …hope it does not scar.

  3. I agree with the man who said let it dry out..I think keep it clean and covered for a few day, then let it dry out and scab..once it scabs then you can cover again, but allow intervals of drying out..if a wound is keep damp and covered. surly starts it starts to rot, therefore increasing risk of infection. As proven to me from the few times my son has fallen off off moped…1st time ended up in A&E because of infection..because it was kept covered and weeping

    • I can relate to your and David’s concerns since you certainly do not want a wound to become too moist. At least that didn’t seem right in my personal experience.

      During the use of the hydrogel plasters on the scrapes on my fingers I took a look twice a day. Once I noticed the area became rather macerated, the surrounding skin had become really white and delicate and the new tissue seemed pus colored, I took the dressings off for a while. I could then see the new tissue aka wound re-epithelialization turn to a more solid state. It became clear it wasn’t pus but just the cells that normally form the crust now being in a liquid form.

      Of course, if you keep it moist and it does not seem or feel right, by all means, let the wound dry out. Everybody is different and the adage that what works for many people may work less well for others is true. I think what’s essential is to keep a close eye on the healing progress. See how it develops and change circumstances if they do not seem beneficial. I still know that for me, moist conditions really improve healing compared to completely dry, scabbed wounds.

    • Lisa,
      Sweetie, that is NOT what Cosmetic Surgeons do, PLEASE DO NOT disseminate this nonsense.
      Your son ended up in the A&E, most likely, because you did not debride and sanitize the wound correctly….We are Taught that it will ‘rot’, but strangely enough, the opposite occurs when the wound dressing is changed regularly and Collodioal Silver and the Manuka 10+ or more, honey is used on the wound.
      Better luck next time.

  4. Apparently people goggled this common myth and ended up here only to comment with their misinformed anecdotal evidence. Just because you let something scab over and it healed does not mean that it is the best way! Decades of research on wound healing and the properties of the skin went into the conclusion that moist wound healing is best and this is an opportunity to dispel a common medical myth. STOP PERPETUATING IT!

  5. This study is ongoing and while lends itself to the conclusions drawn by this article, is not complete. Validations on certain parts of the body seem to indicate moist vs scab and vice versa. Recommend you follow the advise of your doctor for your given situation – especially as it pertains to your genitalia or anus.

    • I could not agree more. Not to get graphic, but I had an open wound like area near my anus that I kept moist in the hopes of healing it faster. Needless to say I wish I had seen a doctor like Harvard Doc instead of Googling for an answer. Take it from me, see a doctor and follow qualified advise. I wound up needing cosmetic surgery and my boyfriend doesn’t love me the way he used to because I “don’t look as attractive down there”. Don’t let this happen to you!

    • Thanks for pointing that essential distinction out. I have added a short update based on your recommendations in the article.

  6. You say you needed cosmetic surgery “down there” and now your boyfriend doesn’t “love you the way he used to”. This is a joke, right? As a man who loves a woman as a whole person as opposed to a collection of parts, if your comment is not a joke then it’s grotesque and makes all men sound bad. Trust me, not all of us are.

  7. Mine has dried up it’s been 10 days but still tingles if I try & put organic aloe Vera gel on to keep it moist as the products you mention are not available here in Asia.
    So was thinking of washing it with water often and Vaseline ?
    How often can I get it wet ?
    Thanks all

    • Vaseline helps keep it moist which can be a good thing. Vaseline may also help prevent excessive scar tissue. Research shows it to be as effective in improving cosmetic scar appearance as many special scar creams. I would just put on Vaseline during the day and closely monitor how the wound looks and feels. Better not take existing scabs off.

  8. This all is sort of dependent. When I got cuts, scraps, and burns – sometimes quite severe – in East Africa trial and error taught me to dry that thing out ASAP. Ones I kept moist, even with cleaning and use of anti-biotic ointments, got severely infected. It just became a festering hole and the largest one I used that strategy with has left me with a scar the size of my palm on my leg. Immediate drying with iodine was the best option, and leaving it open anytime I could. I never once got infected with that method, and have no scars from those ones.

  9. I wonder why we do sitz baths on periniums after birth if drying out isn’t the best since salt will draw moisture from your body and encourage dryness around that area…why do we encourage mothers to let their babies off plastic diapers a few times during the day if they hv nappy rash..maybe scabbing ain’t bad. .people don’t realise nature has provided everything we need. .Don’t cover wounds. .If you cover them the bacteria also likes moisture and would multiply. .don’t b cheat by people interested in making money selling us staff we don’t need in our bodies. .The honey one is the only one I can try. .

  10. I was at my friends down the park with about 12 people all my age and I was trying out a few stunts on one of my friends stunt scooter and I was going to fast and I flew over the handle and scraped all up the side of my face and my legs and my elbows my face is my most concern and it still stings even though this was 2 days ago my face has a giant hole In it like its been scooped out with a spoon and I don’t know what to do!!!!!!!!

  11. I feel like a mixture of keeping it moist with vaseline and slightly drying it our works the best. Also depends on what type of wound/abrasion you have. Some I have experienced heal better with more drying, others heal faster with a layer of vaseline over it. The best thing if you are unsure is to go see a GOOD doctor. 😉

  12. dry it out, your body will heal itself…if you don’t pick the scab of you usually won’t have a scar either…

    • Or follow the advice in the article backed up by scientific research and keep it moist and heal 50% faster….

      @dave: Your comment is absolutely correct. Your body will heal itself. However, as the article states, that is the slow way to healing. Scientific studies have show that keeping it moist causes it to heal up to 50% faster.

  13. i had a motorcycle accident 2 days ago. I have a wound on my knee. Scraped the road.
    My wife told me to keep it dry and not put gauze on it.
    I use hydrogen peroxide and betadine on the wound.
    What else can i do?
    Suggestions are welcome
    Thank you

    • It’s generally recommended not to use hydrogen peroxide for days on end as it may slow wound healing. Medihoney wound gel is my favorite topical. I also had good results with hydrogel dressings. I took them off for a short while only to prevent the wound site becoming macerated. As you can read here in the comments, opinions and experiences with moist or dry wound healing seem to differ from person to person but this works best for me.

  14. I have a nasty abrasion on my knee after falling on a rock trail running. I kept the wound dressed and covered for first few days, the the clinic then told me I should ‘air-it-out’. Hmmm. In the evenings I’ve been putting a hot wet towel on it and this pretty much dissolves whatever scab formed that day. It also makes the would all yellow lumpy with pus, which I gently wipe off. Its been 10 days, I see new pink skin around the edges but still a lot of pain and scabbing going on. What should I do? Is the nightly compress a good idea? Can I wipe away the yellow pus. There’s also a layer of what looks like milky white skin after apply the compress.

    Sorry for being gross, any help appreciated.

    • When I keep wounds moist I intermittently let it dry in the air for 10 minutes or so. I do this to prevent skin maceration (perhaps what you refer to as milky white skin?). I noticed that that yellow pus gradually turns into a scab once the dressing is off. So personally, I do not wipe anything away, I just keep the wound covered and clean and make sure the surrounding skin doesn’t become macerated or feels like the wound bed is covered too much.

  15. First a foremost, according to this article, the wet wound theory is just over 50 years old. What the heck did we do before then? The scab is natures way of protecting the wound. It is true that keeping it wet heals it quicker but from my experience it requires more care. I’ll keep it covered for a while but usually let it go to scab after about a week. I’ll keep an eye out for infection. Sure, it may take longer to ‘heal’ but you also can forgo the bandage much sooner than you would if you let it scab over.
    This all varies on the type and degree of the injury. I get scraps and scratches all the time that I have no clue when and were i got them, and therefore don’t do much at all in treatment.

  16. Vaseline and honey based ointment sound like great ideas. I will start using them one on each hand tonight. I sleep with bread bags on my hands soaked in hand cream every night. I will report back on efficacy of vaseline vs. honey. I am an electrician.

  17. Hey,

    So recently I gave myself some fairly bad razorburn on the side of my neck. It for some reason has not gone away in the past 10 days despite my attempts to keep it wet with Vaseline. Recently, I checked and there were a couple pus filled blisters below one of the cuts. These are not open wounds, just redish pink on my neck that often are scabbed over. I have tried alternatively drying it out and using moisturizing lotion but it is essentially the same since I started. I wouldn’t normally worry but the blisters were concerning. Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I am trying to heal as quickly as possible!!

  18. Doctors want to keep the wound moist with a covering. What do they think is happening under a scab created by nature for millions of years anyway?

  19. Hi I have breast cancer and had the lump removed on the 11th of november. The scar has been infected twice now and is still having a lot of puss coming from it. Any advice to get it healed before Thursday as the doctors won’t start my chemo until it’s properly healed! I am still on antibiotics until late Wednesday. Thanks

  20. There seems to be an unspoken assumption among many here that *faster* wound healing is necessarily *better*. Where is the evidence for that conclusion? Just because a wound with a scab heals more slowly, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it heals any less effectively. In fact, it’s possible that slower healing might even be better.

    We live in a society that worships speed, and I just wanted to point out that faster doesn’t always mean better. So, to prove that moist wound healing is better, you need a better argument than just speed.

    • Well they didn’t just site healing speed as proof of superiority. They also cited decreased incidence of scarring. And yes, generally healing faster is better than healing more slowly. The slower it heals the more scar tissue forms, the more chances it has to become exposed to debris or infectious agents, and the more likely it is to become re-irritated or injured (think hitting it on something, rubbing it against something, or in general doing something to the delicate healing tissue).

      Sure, not everything can be fast but there are generally times when speed is (at least partially) responsible for improved results.

      Also, just because moist wound healing is superior (as noted by increased speed of healing, decreased incidence of scarring and other issues) doesn’t mean that leaving it alone does NOTHING. However, acting like humans only just recently started caring for wounds is kind of silly. We have evidence that even very early peoples engaged in some form of wound care (dressings, honey, oils, vinegar, and herbal pastes are all examples). So to act like humans only started treating wounds 50 or so years ago is fallacious.

      The human body does a lot of things and it does a lot of things well but if you’ve ever eaten food, drank water, taken an herbal supplement, used vitamins, taken a medication, worn shoes, or put on a coat, or used sunglasses then you’ve proven that there are millions of ways the human body needs some form of assistance. Sometimes the body can kind of cope without any outside intervention but in the case of some of the items listed the human body would absolutely die (often quickly) without outside intervention. The body wasn’t made to be completely self-sustaining. We were given the intelligence to figure out the best ways to enhance our body’s abilities so we can live (either at all or in an improved fashion).

  21. Hello, friends… Im concerned. I took a chemical peel on the jawline (between face and neck) and It started to scab 4 days after… Ive travelled abroad and cannot ask my dermatologyst. Then, by reading this article I should apply vaseline to my scabs… But Im concerned for a particular doubt: Do you think It could affect my facial hair (beard)? Thanks a lot for someone’s reply…. By the way, it was a superfitial to medium peeling with glycolic acid (30%) – maybe a overreaction.

  22. Not to be overly cynical, but let’s all remember to follow the money
    when we’re trying to make medical or scientific decisions.

    There’s little or no money in scabs, but tons of the stuff in antibiotic,
    antiseptic and moisturizing creams, not to mention oodles of green
    in bandages of all sorts.

    Nature “invented” scabs to aid in the healing of wounds. As one writer
    pointed out, a scab with moist content below it is strangely similar to
    a bandage over a wound.

    So, I’m going the “dry out” plus a scab route for the current burn on
    my foot.

    And being 72 I must be very careful as my vascular system may not be
    as replete with healing nutrients on their way to the wound as it once was.

    Thanks to all for these thoughtful opinions.

    Truman Green

    • Truman, did you experience any difficulty drying your wound? I have one just below the left ankle that I am having trouble drying. Since I have to be active rather than just elevating and drying I have to apply a dressing and the drainage continues. I believe God created scabbing as the first line of healing and would prefer to go that route for the reasons you cite.

    • I have tried medi-honey, sugardine, polymem, occlusive gauze and aquacel. Even though I used zinc oxide ointment as a peri-wound barrier I continued to lose skin around the edges of the wound due to exudate leakage. Out of desperation I am now trying to dry the wound by leaving it open to the air and using a hair dryer on cool several times a day to dry the ooze. I have a nice scab forming but still have some ooze which I am absorbing with panty liners and incontinence pads (which lock the exudate into gel keeping the wound dryer than medical abd pads) when a dressing is necessary.

  23. I looked up this info because my dermatologist recommended putting petroleum jelly on the area that she removed some moles after first applying hydrogen peroxide. Seemed an odd recommendation but this makes sense. Also I recently reread the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan and it says he first poured some wine on the wounds (antibacterial properties) and then poured on some oil. I was wondering why oil – but it appears they knew a few things about wound care as well.

  24. I believe the studies that keeping a wound moist makes it heal faster, but that doesn’t mean everyone in every situation wants to keep their wounds moist. Like the article said, scabs form to keep environmental contamination out and help prevent infection. So for people who play sports, are super active, or don’t have money to spare for bandages and such, letting it dry out makes sense. Yeah, it’ll heal slower, but at least when you’re out running on the field and your bandaid falls off, the scab keeps you protected. Not everyone has fast and efficient healing as their goal. Some of us just want to be able to get active again faster, even if that means having a scab for a long time. It’s simply easier to be active with a dry wound than a wet one because the gel or bandage or honey or whatever will tend to come off if you’re wrestling someone, or your legs are rubbing against your shorts as you run, or you’re doing any number of things. If the wound is dry and I can run around and do stuff, I don’t much care if it scars or takes forever to completely heal.

  25. My wife’s wound grew from the size of a quarter to wrapping around her leg due to maceration from moist wound practitioners.

  26. I nearly took of my entire pinky fingertip last night. It cut through the nail and took four stitches to close. Instructions were to keep it bandaged for 24 hours then let it air out, washing twice daily. It appears that much of this ‘moist healing’ concept is for larger, shallow wounds… Am I correct in that belief? Is doing ‘open air’ the better option for a deep laceration?

  27. I had some concrete burns from falling off a bike which were white after the accident. I let them dry out to stop the weeping and then covered it with Savlon (antiseptic cream), aquaphor (similar to vaseline) and a plaster/bandaid. I’ve been taking it through a cycle of moistening and drying, so i’ll use the creams to moisten it, and then let it air dry during the day. After 3 days i’m seeing a good response to this.
    I have tattoos and they always say don’t let it scab in the healing process for best results so i took a similar approach to that. Nappyrash/diaper rash creams are pretty good for little scrapes and stuff too. I’ve been using that around the edges which were not open.

  28. I developed a stasis wound just below my left ankle and with my wife’s problems with wound care over a 2 year period I decided not to see a doctor. The medical profession clings blindly to the moist wound wound bed approach to healing even as results sometimes suggest otherwise. It has been proven to accelerate healing in a clinical environment however this is not true in all cases.

    In my case due to wound drainage the moist wound bed approach for a stasis wound near my ankle was increasing the size of the wound even though I was using zinc oxide ointment over the periwound area in attempt to protect it. For primary dressings I tried vaseline gauze, AquaCel Extra and Polymem Pink foam each with the same result. I saw a post on the internet where someone in a similar situation stopped seeing his podiatrist and began to use EMT Gel which is a collagen gel sold for large and small animal use. His claim was that his ulcer was healed in three months. EMT Gel is available on-line, pet shops, some drug stores and even Tractor Supply Company.

    In my case I cleaned the wound with saline solution, sprayed it with a nano silver solution (let it dry), applied the EMT Gel, let it dry for about 30 minutes, applied zinc oxide ointment to the periwound area, covered the wound with an anti-stick primary dressing then used half of a panty liner as a secondary dressing (it forms a gel that absorbs any drainage strike-through from the primary dressing and doesn’t give it back). I also used SB Sox (sports socks) for compression and take supplements (grape seed extract, Diosmin 95 and sublingual EDTA chelation) to reduce leg edema. Within a couple of months the area of draining wound bed reduced from about 2.5 x 3.5 x .5 cm to less than .5 cm and the edema which caused the problem has abated. At present it appears healed but I will continue to apply EMT Gel and a piece of panty liner as dressing until I am certain re-epithelialization is complete. I call the approach semi-moist as the EMT Gel apparently seals the wound bed after the drainage becomes minimal. I suggest this as no visible scab has formed, however I have nothing against scabs as God designed scabs.

    THis is not medical advice and has not been evaluated by a physician. We are all different and this is a work in progress at this point. All I know is that the excruciating pain is gone, the drainage is abated and it seems to be healing. With no pain or drainage normal activity is possible. I do recommend EMT Gel as an item to be included in first aid kits at least for minor scrapes and cuts but not for puncture wounds.

  29. I am fair skinned and probably had 10 basal cell excisions on my body, the two that I kept covered left deep scars, the ones that I kept dry rubbing Vitamin E around the edges filled in with new skin and didn’t keloid or leave a pit. Somethings work better for different people.

  30. Hydrocolloid bandages work very well on blisters. But as others have noted, continuous moist bandaging does not give the best result in every case. I skinned my knee a couple of years ago, and since it was a large area, I cleaned it up and applied Tegaderm film – supposedly the gold standard in wound care. To its credit, it stayed in place, was comfortable and kept the area completely clean. But…. the scrape never finished healing. In addition to looking disgusting (transparent plastic over oozy wound exudates) the wound stayed wet and raw. Close to two weeks after the injury, I saw my GP for a regular checkup. He said, “You should take that off. It will never finish healing. That’s really meant for hospital wound care.” Sure enough, after a few days in the open air, it was almost completely healed. So – maybe moist bandaging is useful for a few days, but better to transition to a loose non-stick pad after that.

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