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I've been told to take the Band-Aid off a small cut every once in a while in order for it to heal faster. Is this good advice, or should I try to keep it covered as much as possible?

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    I believe that J&J the makers of of the Band-Aid brand suggest that you remove clean the wound and apply a new bandaid at least daily. I do not know that this is to help it heal faster so much as to help avoid infection. An infected wound would definatly heal slower though. – Chad Oct 3 '11 at 18:27
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    Finding a lot of yahoo answers saying to let it air out, finding lots of news articles saying that this is a huge mistake, still looking for something with references though. – Alain Oct 3 '11 at 18:28
  • @Chad: I don't mean replace the bandage: I mean taking it off for a while, and then getting a new one to put back on. I don't know how much the chances of infection goes up by doing this, though. That's partly what I want to know. – Daniel Oct 3 '11 at 18:35
  • I would expect that would depend on what you do while your wound is exposed. If you are in a basically clean environment and prevent contact to it from contaminated then It should not hurt though I would expect it will not help either. But your chances of exposing the wound to dangerous bacteria increase the more it is uncovered. So I would expect that the net is this is going to hinder more often than it would provide any benefit. – Chad Oct 3 '11 at 18:42
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    I've heard that this is a plot by Big Pharma to sell more band-aids. – Zano Oct 5 '11 at 11:56
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Presumably, you've been told to take the Band-Aid off periodically in order to give it air. In fact, this slows healing, so if you wish to have your cut heal as quickly as possible, keep it bandaged.

The primary benefit of a bandage is to help seal the wound and stop or slow bleeding and prevent re-injury and infection. Where people start to differ in opinion is once the wound has been cleaned and placed in a sterile environment. At this point, the primary benefit of bandages are to keep the wound moist, which your well-meaning friend might not realize provides optimal conditions for healing.

[dressings] are designed to create a moist wound healing environment which allows the wound fluids and growth factors to remain in contact with wound, thus promoting autolytic debridement and accelerating wound healing. [1]

Because of this, airing out the wound is counterproductive.

Exposing a wound to the air so it can breathe is a [mistake], because it creates a dry environment that promotes cell death. [2]

The moist environment has the bonus of sustaining a provisional extra-cellular matrix throughout the healing process, facilitating cell migration and ultimately, epithelialization. This results in less visible scarring once the wound is healed. [3]

[1] Update on wound dressings: Indications and best use

[2] NYT Health

[3] Medscape - Surgical Dressings

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  • Plus, the bandage keeps the wound warm, which also accelerates the healing process. I recently read something about weather opening a bandage for medical inspection is good or bad, which is (in some cases) not clear because the wound cools down which extends the healing for a few hours. (Sorry, I couldn't find the source) – Lenar Hoyt Oct 6 '11 at 23:24
  • There are also Silicone Scar Sheets but apparently the jury is still out on their efficacy. They work by keeping the scar sealed off until it's healed. – w00t Oct 7 '11 at 15:28

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