Skin Care Myths: Cuts Heal Better When You Let Air at Them

Many of you, as I, were raised to believe that cuts and scrapes heal better when you let the air at them. Well, your mom was right about a lot of things, but not this one.

When you cut yourself, the skin heals because healthy cells migrate out from the hair follicles and in from the edges of the wound to cover the entire surface of the injured area. When a cut dries out, a crusted scab forms. Scabs are dried collections of dead cells, blood clot, and white blood cells. This crusted debris actually hinders healing because it gets in the way of the skin cells migrating to cover the wound. Allowing a scab to form, then, actually slows healing and can worsen the scar.

The best treatment for a cut is to keep the wound clean and moist at all times. This can be done by washing gently once a day with soap and water or with a solution of 1/2 hydrogen peroxide, 1/2 water. Then apply a greasy ointment such as Vaseline or Aquaphor to seal moisture in and cover the wound with a band-aid. Antibiotic ointments can also be used, but they probaby cause more harm than good.

Keeping a cut or wound covered and moist and preventing a scab from forming will allow healthy cells to migrate in easily, thus allowing the wound to heal more quickly and minimizing the scar formed.

Sorry, Mom.

Post written by Jeffrey Benabio, MD. You might also like these other skincare myths:

Antioxidants treat wrinkles

Body sweat makes acne worse

You cannot be allergic to a product you have used for years

Plucking Hair Makes it Grow Back Thicker

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Photo credit: Belinda Hankins Miller

20 thoughts on “Skin Care Myths: Cuts Heal Better When You Let Air at Them”

  1. I thought hydrogen peroxide was no longer recommended for use on the skin because it is a pro-oxidant and inhibits wound healing?

  2. YOU THOUGHT WRONG!! h2o2 ftw!

  3. Interesting post. Have to file this one under “I did not know that.”

  4. a feminist pre-med says:

    Can this also prevent hyperpigmentation?

  5. Sasha-
    Hydrogen peroxide can help break up a scab if one has formed. I recommend using a dilute solution for my patients.

    haha. Maybe not “for the win.” Perhaps BTN “better than nothing.”

    Thanks. I am glad you enjoyed it.

    Feminist pre-med-
    Yes, it can help minimize post inflammatory hyperpigementation as well.

  6. Perhaps this provides an evolutionary explanation as to why picking at a scab is so irresistible…

  7. Why do you say antibiotic ointments probably do more harm than good?

  8. My wife believes that you can use coffee grounds to close an open wound. Is there any truth behind that idea? She said her father accidentally cut himself with a knife and they put coffee all over it to stop the bleeding. What do you think?

  9. If I accidentally cut myself my best experience is to put water on it, press it gently together with your fingers for 1 minute.
    This way bleeding is minimum and heeling is rather quick.

  10. Very nice blog, I agree with most of what you are saying here…

  11. Very nice article!! A lot of helpful information.. I agree with Dillion.. I hope there will be a recommendation section here..


  12. I work at a restaurant and there is a lot of glassware that comes in and out of hand through out the night and I cut myself pretty badly the other night. My finger was basically pouring out blood on to the floor and then a kitchen staffer came and started pouring coffee grounds on the open wound. I was kind of in shock so I didn’t say anything, but sure enough the wound had coagulated at a really fast rate. She said something with the caffeine makes the blood coagulate? I thought she made it up, but your wife’s Dad says the same thing then?@Frank

  13. In Colombia we use coffee grounds to stop the bleeding, I’ve split my head at least 3 times. I had a tree branch go almost through my left hand. coffee grounds stopped the bleeding, don’t know why it works but it sure does. and ive never had stitches.

  14. Do you have any references to journals ect to support the claim of

    “Allowing a scab to form, then, actually slows healing and can worsen the scar.”

  15. Excellent thanks Dr

  16. I once cut my knee with a broken glass and my father put coffee grounds, it healed and never required medical attention.

  17. I fell once over 20 years ago and had a nasty scrape on my face. The ER dr told me to keep it covered and moist with anti-b ointment for 2 weeks. I’ve always remembered that. But when I had the bandage on my face 20 years ago, acquaintances AND friends just would not shut up about “you should let it get air.”

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