By Dr. Dave Hnida

(CBS4) – It sounds weird, but when you think about it, the phenomenon makes sense.

According to a new study in the journal Science, you probably will heal faster if you cut yourself during that daytime compared to a wound suffered at night.

band aid 1 Daytime Wounds Heal Twice As Fast As Those Suffered At Night

(credit: Dr. Dave Hnida)

In fact, almost twice as fast, according to researchers who analyzed how a variety of different skin dents and dings healed according to the time of day they happened.

For example, when they looked at severe burns suffered at night, they found the average healing time was 28 days, compared to burns that happened during the day — they took on average less than 17 days to heal.

And like most things in the body, it all has to do with our internal rhythms, or body clocks.

It appears that the body mobilizes its hormones and chemicals that are involved in wound healing best after 7 a.m. It’s also the time when a skin healing cell in the body, something called a fibroblast, literally awakens from slumber and works at its best to patch wounds in the tissues of the body.

And it wasn’t just the rate of healing that was found to be different. The quality of healing was also better for daytime wounds, as the body tended to lay down more collagen, a protein which made the injured area stronger.

Obviously, you don’t want to get hurt at any time of day or night. But here are a few basic thoughts on what to do if you suffer a minor wound, meaning you don’t need to go to the emergency room:

If possible, run the wound under some lukewarm water. It’s the most important step for cleaning.

You can use soap to help clean a dirty wound, but if you do, use something very gentle such as baby shampoo, which will do the trick nicely with no added pain.

On the other hand: No iodine, peroxide or alcohol. Those just injure the healthy tissue surrounding the wound and delay healing. Plus they hurt!!

Dry it out? Not really, these days our philosophy is keep a healing wound moist, so a little ointment such as Neosporin is fine, but frankly almost any non-fragranced lotion or ointment will work. Then keep the wound clean and covered until healed. Drying the wound out may actually slow down healing.

And obviously, if you have any questions, or have a nasty one, call or get things checked out by a health care provider.

Dr. Dave Hnida is CBS4’s Medical Editor. He blogs about the latest studies and trends in the health world. Read his latest blog entries, check out his bio or follow him on Twitter @drdavehnida


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