If you’re wondering how to make cuts heal faster, chances are that you have one right now. A cut is like a common cold; there’s no avoiding it, you just need to know how to take care of yourself when it happens.
Everyone gets cuts from time to time, ranging from irritating – like a papercut – to downright painful – like accidentally nicking yourself with a kitchen knife.
The question is: What’s the fastest way to heal a cut? Just like with a cold, a cut might not have a big impact on your daily life, but it’s still frustrating. There’s no magic potion for healing your body, but there are steps you can take to speed the process along.
In this article, we’ve put together a list of seven things you can do to help your body heal efficiently, no matter what kind of cut you’re dealing with. Before we get into how to make cuts heal faster, we need to answer a question: how long do cuts take to heal in the first place?
How long do cuts take to heal?
Since cuts vary so much, it’s only natural that the healing time for cuts varies, too.
On average, you can expect a small cut to heal in as little as three to seven days. These cuts include papercuts, hangnails, small scratches, or minor scrapes. Since only the outermost layer of the epidermis is affected, these cuts will probably bleed very little and have only a minor risk of infection.
A slightly larger cut – about ½ - 1 inch long and up to ¼ inch deep – will take seven to 21 days to heal completely. These go deeper into the skin, so you’ll likely need to apply pressure to stop the bleeding before caring for the cut. Since they’re larger, you’ll also have a slightly greater risk of infection.
Last on the list are large cuts – longer than 1 inch and/or deeper than ¼ inch. These cuts will require medical attention since they often require stitches. They can take months or years to heal, depending on the location and severity.
One final note before we get into how to make cuts heal faster: Watch out for the following things:
- Your wound spurting blood
- Bleeding that doesn’t stop within 10 minutes
- Visible muscle or bone
If any of the above apply, seek immediate emergency medical attention.
As long as you are in the clear and don’t need medical attention, then it’s time to learn how to make cuts heal faster.
7 tips for how to make cuts heal faster
Here are our top tips for healing cuts as swiftly as possible.
1. Keep the area clean
The first step in the process of how to make cuts heal faster is keeping your cut clean, but maybe not in the way you think.
Hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol have often been used to “clean out” wounds in at-home care. However, these substances actually damage healthy tissue and don’t clean a cut better than regular soap and water. Since they damage healthy tissue, these will actually slow healing.
Instead, start by checking for any debris in your cut. Once you’ve cleaned that out with some sanitized tweezers, use mild soap and warm water. Wash around the cut, but don’t rub soap directly into the cut since this can cause further irritation. Then, gently pat dry.
When trying to figure out how to make cuts heal faster, remember not to overdo it. If you wash your cut too often, you can slow healing and, paradoxically, increase your risk of infection.
2. Use an ointment
After you clean the area, putting some ointment on is the next step in how to make cuts heal faster.
Antibacterial ointments with ingredients like Bacitracin Zinc, Neomycin Sulfate, and Polymyxin B Sulfate are ideal. These can reduce the risk of infection by preventing bacteria from growing. If you’re allergic to some or all of these ingredients, you have other options! A thin layer of petroleum jelly can also shield your cut from bacteria.
Besides keeping bacteria out of the cut, ointment keeps the wound moist. Wounds that are kept moist heal faster, so a little ointment on your cut after washing can go a long way!
Once the cut has closed up, you can also consider some unconventional ointments to help make cuts heal faster. Turmeric paste, honey, aged garlic extract, and coconut oil all have evidence supporting their use in healing.
3. Put a bandage on (and change it daily)
After washing and putting ointment on your cut, put a clean bandage on. The bandage acts as a physical barrier against bacteria and debris and keeps the cut moist, as well.
You might have heard that wounds need time to “air out,” leaving you to wonder, “Do wounds heal faster covered or uncovered?” Fortunately, there’s a wealth of scientific information to rely on here.
Many studies have concluded that covered wounds heal significantly faster than uncovered wounds. So, again, when you’re looking for how to make cuts heal faster, the answer is surprisingly simple – use a bandage!
To prevent the risk of bacterial growth, change your bandage out once a day. Infection from a bandage is fairly uncommon, especially when the wound is kept clean and the bandage is changed regularly.
When changing your bandage, avoid ripping it off. This is a common psychological trick to overcome the fear of pain from the bandage sticking to your skin, but it isn’t helpful. When looking for help with how to make cuts heal faster, the last thing you want is to reopen the wound.
Ripping off a bandage can reopen the cut and irritate the skin around it. So how do you get a bandage off? Soak the area in warm water to help loosen the adhesive and gently peel it off, being mindful of anywhere the pad of the bandage sticks.
4. Monitor for infection
Even the most careful person in the world can get an infected cut. You could be following all the steps for how to make cuts heal faster and still end up with an infection, so it’s important to keep your eyes peeled.
Each day, when changing your bandage, look for signs of infection, but know what to look for. Some things, like redness or swelling, can be signs of a healing wound as well as signs of infection. Redness, tenderness, and swelling are only signs of infection when they’re a dramatic change.
Other symptoms are definite signs of infection. Developing a fever, noticing a bad smell coming from the cut, and any yellow- or green-colored pus are all signs that an infection has already developed.
The sooner you notice signs of infection, the sooner you can get help. Getting help quickly can make your cut heal faster since your body won’t have to fight the infection.
5. Seek medical help when needed
If anything seems amiss, reach out to your healthcare professional as soon as possible. Developing an infection is one time you may need medical help, but it isn’t the only case. Sometimes the only thing you can do to make cuts heal faster is to get professional medical help.
If your cut is deep, has jagged edges, or is located on a joint and keeps splitting open, you may need stitches. Stitches can hold the skin together and allow it to heal in a way that bandages or other at-home care can’t.
When learning how to make cuts heal faster, it’s also important to know when a cut could cause further health problems. If your cut is from an animal – especially a wild animal – your chances of infection are much higher, and you should look for help.
Your risk of infection also goes up if your cut is from rusty metal. If you aren’t up to date on your tetanus immunization, see a doctor right away. And if you’re not sure, call your doctor’s office and ask to make sure that you get the care you need.
Finally, check in with your healthcare team any time something doesn’t feel right. You know your body best, so trust any signs it gives you that something isn’t going as expected.
6. Get plenty of rest
Getting a good night’s sleep can help your body in all kinds of ways. And when talking about sleep in the context of how to make cuts heal faster, rest means more than just sleep. The fastest way to heal a cut is to avoid anything that will make your body expend extra energy to heal.
Most importantly, this means not picking at scabs. Often, people pick at scabs because they itch. Why do healing wounds itch? To answer that, we’ll have to look at how your body heals.
There are four stages of wound healing: hemostasis, inflammatory, proliferative, and maturation. Wound healing is a complex process, but a brief overview can help you better understand what’s happening in your body.
In the hemostasis phase, your body closes the wound by sending clotting agents to the site of the cut. This stops the bleeding and prevents the wound from opening more. The hemostasis phase happens very quickly and is usually over within minutes or hours.
The inflammatory phase is next and is as simple as it sounds. Your body sends many different cells and fluids to the injured area. The combination of damaged tissue and extra cells causes inflammation, such as swelling and redness.
After that, your body begins the proliferative phase. This is likely where you’ll notice the itchiness associated with healing. During this phase, the tissue at the site of the wound contracts as new tissue forms. And, of course, your body sheds the scab that was holding the wound closed.
Finally, in the maturation phase, the scar tissue forms and then begins to shrink and heal. This last stage of the process takes much longer than the initial healing but is usually unnoticeable.
Throughout every stage, your body will need different amounts of rest and care. When learning how to make cuts heal faster, knowledge is power. You won’t wonder, “How long do cuts take to heal?” You’ll know exactly what to expect at every stage and recognize any anomalies.
7. Give your body the right kind of fuel
Last, but certainly not least, give your body the fuel it needs to heal. When looking for help with how to make cuts heal faster, remember that food is your body’s fuel. The kinds of foods you eat make a difference in how your body heals.
Getting plenty of healthy fats and protein is essential in making cuts heal faster. These are the things that your body makes new cells from, so not having enough will slow healing. One such protein is collagen. Collagen wound healing has been studied extensively and the findings have been amazing.
Your skin is up to 90% collagen, mostly types I and III. If you’re looking for how to make cuts heal faster, orally supplementing with collagen can help. You’ll be giving your body exactly what it needs to rebuild the skin that’s damaged by your cut.
What’s the fastest way to heal a cut?
How to make cuts heal faster isn’t an exact science. Like all medicine, our knowledge of wound care is constantly growing and evolving. One thing is for sure, though, your body is excellent at healing itself.
Waiting for a cut to heal can be frustrating, but it may help to remember that your body is doing an amazing thing. Buildings and machines can’t heal themselves. In fact, even trees can’t heal themselves, they can only form scar tissue around an injury. Your body is completely rebuilding tissues, and in the case of small cuts, you won’t even know they were there.
The fastest way to heal a cut is just by supporting your body in doing what it does best. This includes keeping the cut clean and protected, and supplementing with hydrolyzed collagen to give your body the building blocks it needs to heal cuts swiftly.