While most of us think of electricity as something we need to dry our hair or make some toast, electric currents are actually an important part of how our bodies work. In fact, low-intensity electrical currents play a role in how cuts heal. Now they are being used medically to help slowly healing skin wounds.
A healthy skin barrier actually maintains a negative charge on the surface of your skin and a positive charge deeper down. This “circuit” is broken when the skin is damaged from a cut or a scrape. That electric environment actually signals the body to heal itself by increasing circulation around the wound and attracting wound healing cells and proteins. They repair damage and form a scar as the open skin heals over.
You may have heard from your grandmother to leave a cut open to let it breathe. However, wound healing research has taught us that wounds actually heal better if they are covered. If a wound is left open to the air the intensity of the “broken electric current” decreases. Especially for larger cuts, this interferes with the normal skin healing process. In some severe cases, it may mean that the wound won’t heal at all.
Enter modern technology. Specialized wound care doctors are using electrical devices to help promote healing of open sores and cuts. If the body’s electric current has decreased in the wound, these devices can give an extra kick to stimulate the wound healing process. Now, we aren’t talking about sticking your finger into an electrical socket. Low-intensity microcurrents were first used in the early 2000s and continue to be a tool to help heal challenging cuts.
Microcurrent technology is not going to be used for most common cuts and scrapes, though. If you get a cut or a scrape, here’s what you should do:
1. Make sure you thoroughly clean it with soap and water.
2. If you are bleeding, apply firm pressure with a clean towel or tissue.
3. Once the active bleeding has stopped, apply over-the-counter bacitracin ointment to prevent infection.
4. Apply an adhesive bandage.
5. Repeat the process twice daily. If the cut is deep or the bleeding won’t stop, make sure to keep pressure on it and visit your doctor or local ER.