Wounds sustained during the day heal two times faster than those received at night, a new study says. While the premise may sound peculiar, science says it actually makes sense.
Researchers analyzed how various skin afflictions heal according to the time of day that they happened, CBS Local reports. For example, they examined severe burns that happened at night, and found that the average healing time was 28 days. Compared to wounds that happened during the day, these took an average of 17 days fewer to heal – that’s a lot of days.
The phenomenon has something to do with the circadian rhythm, or the body clock. The body activates hormones and chemicals that function in healing best after 7:00 in the morning, the researchers found. This is also the time when skin healing cells in the body, called fibroblasts, literally wake up from sleep and work well to sew together wounds present in a person’s tissues.
In addition to the rate of healing, the quality of healing also proved to be better for wounds during the day. This is because the body tends to bring out more collagen, a protein which makes an injured area heal more efficiently, at this time of day.
In case of small wounds that don’t need a visit to the emergency room, there are some things that can be done to make sure healing is faster: run the wound under lukewarm water, use soap or baby shampoo to clean the wound, avoid using iodine, alcohol or peroxide. Keeping the wound moist, such as applying unscented lotions or ointments can also help. Drying out a wound may actually slow down the healing process.
For nastier cuts and scrapes, however, especially those that bleed profusely, it’s best to get to the nearest emergency room, doctors recommend.
The study was published in the journal Science.