Do Wounds Heal Better in Dry or Wet Conditions?

For millennia the prevailing wisdom was to allow wounds to dry out and form a “healthy scab.” Mothers in a bygone era would tell their child, after a slip and fall and subsequent abrasion to the knee to, “let the air get to the wound so it will heal better.”  Unfortunately, Mom was wrong. This all changed in 1962 when the prestigious journal Nature published an article entitled “Formation of the Scab and the Rate of Epithelization of Superficial Wounds in the Skin of the Young Domestic Pig”.

This study showed that wounds kept moist heal at a faster rate than wounds that are ignored, exposed to the environment and dry to form a scab. Many follow-up studies subsequently confirmed these initial findings. Another article in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, in 1988 also demonstrated that wound healing was more rapid in wounds kept moist compared with wounds allowed to heal under dry conditions.