Grandson hugging grandparents who are talking about collagen wound care

The Crucial Role of Collagen in Wound Care

The use of collagen in wound care is nothing new, but evidence continues to grow for collagen’s powerful healing effects. Study after study shows that collagen can improve healing in patients with wounds of all kinds. Despite this, “collagen” may not be the first thing you think of when you think about wound care. 

While the scientific community has been deeply studying collagen, most people don’t know much about it. Some people have never even heard of collagen, and those who have are most familiar with it in beauty products. 

Collagen deserves more credit than just as the active ingredient in anti-aging cream. The impact that collagen has on the body’s entire structure makes it the unsung hero of wound care. This protein packs quite the punch, so today, it gets to take center stage.

What is collagen?

Collagen is a protein. And in many ways, it’s the glue that holds the body together. As the most abundant protein in the body, collagen is crucial to our overall health and wellness. So before we explore collagen in wound care, what do we know about collagen?

So far, we’ve discovered 28 different types of collagen. Type I is the most common in humans, but types II, III, and IV aren’t far behind. One thing all types of collagen have in common is their amino acid content. 

Amino acids are tiny molecules that form proteins, and all types of collagen include both glycine and either proline or hydroxyproline. 

Glycine is a “conditionally essential” amino acid. Broadly speaking, amino acids are sorted into essential and non-essential. You can only get essential amino acids through food, but your body can make its own non-essential amino acids. 

There are some situations where the essential/non-essential category fails us. One of those situations is illness and injury, where your body needs more of certain amino acids to heal and repair itself. 

That’s where collagen in wound care comes in. As a protein rich in glycine, collagen can support your body’s natural healing process.

What role does collagen play in wound healing?

Using collagen in wound care because of its amino acid content is one thing, but does it play an active role in healing? Yes! 

There are four overall stages to wound healing, and collagen shows up in all of them.

First is the hemostasis phase, where your body stops the flow of blood. Collagen is crucial to healthy blood vessels and is central to forming blood clots

Once a clot has formed, the inflammation phase begins, where your body cleans the wound by sending white blood cells to attack any germs or dirt that might still be there. The collagen present in the wound attracts white blood cells and helps this process run smoothly.

Next, in the proliferation phase, collagen wound healing really kicks into second gear. During this phase, your body begins to repair or replace the damaged tissue. To do this, your body needs lots of amino acids that it can synthesize into new collagen. 

And in the final phase, remodeling, collagen bonds are strengthened and organized into healthy new tissue. Using collagen in wound care is effective because it’s present at every stage of healing, from the moment you have a wound until the scar fades. 

How is collagen used in wound care?

Collagen in wound care is typically used in two different forms: as a dressing and as an oral supplement. In all its forms, though, collagen shows up in wound care as collagen peptides. What are collagen peptides

Collagen in its natural state is a large molecule, which means two main things. First, it’s difficult for the body to absorb and digest. And second, it’s tough to extract from other sources. Collagen peptides are smaller, broken-down collagen molecules. 

Using collagen peptides allows your body to digest them more easily. And as far as extracting the collagen goes, peptides are like moving one brick at a time, rather than a whole wall. 

Why is collagen in wound care helpful?

Collagen naturally plays a big role in the healing process, but what does collagen in wound care do that other treatments don’t? For one thing, no other wound care treatments can provide your body with the very material it’s using to repair the damaged tissue. 

Collagen supplements can address any underlying need for collagen in your body. This might be due to a diet low in natural collagen or amino acids, or simply because the body needs more of these nutrients while it heals. 

Without a sufficient amount of the amino acids needed to create collagen, the healing process will be slower and harder on the body.

Collagen wound care products typically include a gel or powder that’s meant to stay on the skin. This means the wound can safely bind to it. In fact, the wound binding to the collagen peptides is helpful! Your body is using that collagen to rebuild the damaged tissue, which is precisely why using collagen in wound care is so powerful.

Does collagen help wounds that won’t heal?

Using collagen for wound care can be especially helpful for wounds that are taking too long to heal. 

How long does a wound take to heal? Generally speaking, wounds should start to show improvement within one to two weeks. If you have a wound that isn’t healing, reach out to your doctor right away.

Healthcare professionals have started using collagen dressings for wounds that won’t heal because of their unique properties. 

We’ve already discussed how the wound can safely bind to collagen gels or powders in a collagen dressing. But in wounds that won’t heal, collagen dressings can do something even more amazing. 

One of the reasons some wounds may be slow to heal is due to overactive white blood cells. These blood cells are meant to keep germs out and destroy cells that are too damaged to be repaired, but sometimes they get carried away. They can start to attack the new tissue that’s being built, as well. 

Using collagen when healing is slowed provides something for the white blood cells to focus on while the new tissue is being built.

What type of wound dressing is collagen?

Collagen wound care products can appear as gels, pastes, powders, sheets, or pads – to name a few! It’s a type of wound dressing that supports a moist healing environment, so it may include antibacterial agents like silver to prevent bacterial growth. 

You don’t need a prescription to use dressings with collagen in wound care at home. However, your doctor will most likely recommend regular follow-ups while you’re using it to monitor your healing. 

Collagen wound dressings typically don’t cause any side effects, even with other medications. Your healthcare team will help you determine if you start having any allergic reactions while using them.

Do oral collagen supplements have the same effect as wound dressings?

Oral collagen supplements don’t have quite the same effect as a wound dressing. But that doesn’t mean taking collagen for wound care isn’t effective! It just means that your body will process a digested supplement differently from a product that sits on the skin. 

For people with slow-healing or even normally-healing wounds, using collagen in wound care as a supplement can be part of a nutrition-focused intervention. Eating more nutrient-dense foods can help speed healing, but it’s not always easy. 

A number of health problems could make it more difficult for you to eat well, and a collagen supplement is a simple, direct way to provide your body with the amino acids it needs to heal. 

Using collagen in wound care as a supplement is even simpler than a dressing. You don’t need a prescription or any professional follow-up to start taking a collagen supplement. (Although, you should always notify your doctor when you start taking a supplement.) 

Medical-grade collagen supplements are proven to speed healing, and you can quickly and easily incorporate them into your care from home!

How to choose collagen wound care products

Choosing products to use as part of your wound care at home can be difficult. Managing a wound, especially a slow-healing wound, can be overwhelming and painful. And finding the right tools to help is no small task. 

Incorporating collagen in wound care routines is a place to start, but there are still so many options. Collagen is helpful in all its forms, so make the right choice for your unique situation. 

For most people, taking collagen as a supplement is the most straightforward option. Not all wounds need specialized dressings, but supplementing with collagen for wound care can help anyone!

If you’re not sure what kind of wound care is right for you, talk to your healthcare team. They'll be able to point you in the right direction.

Collagen dressings vs collagen supplements

Collagen dressings are interesting, but they aren’t very accessible. First off, they can be expensive – just one bandage can run you as much as $10. They also usually need a bandage over top to help them stay in place and will need to be changed regularly to prevent infection.

Collagen dressings can be incredibly useful in some cases, but don’t forget that collagen peptides benefits can be found in supplements, too! For most people, using collagen in wound care in supplement form is much more accessible and just as effective. 

Medical-grade collagen supplements cost less than $2 a serving and can be used to boost your overall health even once your wound heals. 

When it comes to investing in collagen for wound care, supplements are the best place to start. You can always follow up with your healthcare team about incorporating dressings later, but you can start giving your body what it needs to heal right away.

Finding high-quality supplements

When choosing a supplement to use, quality matters. Using high-quality collagen in wound care means that your supplement will be as effective as possible. 

Make sure to look for medical-grade collagen peptides, since medical-grade supplements are held to higher standards than others.

You’ll also want to be aware of where the collagen is sourced. Collagen supplements are usually sourced from cows, pigs, or shellfish. If you have allergies or religious dietary restrictions, you’ll want to be aware of the ingredients used in your supplement. 

As a bonus, look for a supplement that has been fortified to include all essential and non-essential amino acids, to ensure your body has all the nutrients it needs!

How collagen is transforming wound care

Using collagen in wound care has been around for centuries. Bone broth is rich in natural collagen, and it’s also a staple of caring for people who are sick or injured. The healing properties of collagen are certainly nothing new, but our understanding and the ways we use it are. 

Collagen wound dressings are one example, and collagen supplements are another. A medical-grade collagen supplement speeds healing by providing a concentrated, powerful dose of all the amino acids your body needs.