How long for unscabbed wound to heal?
June 8, 2009 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Several days ago I got a cut on my elbow. It scabbed; then there was some pus and later the scab fell off. Now it looks red and white and raw and exposed. For the last couple of days I've been washing it morning and night and putting on bandaids which have built-in antibiotic. The cut doesn't seem to be getting worse, but if it's getting better, it's slow. It doesn't hurt or anything, but how long for this to heal and should I be doing anything differently?

Also, right around the cut there's a crust of probably some combination of dried pus and antibiotic ointment. I am tempted to clean it off but don't want to cut tender, growing skin in the process. Should I just leave it be?
posted by Malad to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
I should add that there's no more pus coming out of the wound and hasn't been for a couple of days.
posted by Malad at 10:50 AM on June 8, 2009

When I have had superficial wounds, my doctor told me to wash it gently daily, and to use a broad-spectrum antibiotic ointment, like neosporin (described online as "a triple antibiotic ointment that contains three broad spectrum antibiotics"), and to keep the wound covered.

You should be making progress now, but it can be slow.
posted by swlabr at 10:50 AM on June 8, 2009

I would just keep it clean and go in if it gets any worse, but IANAD.
posted by emilyd22222 at 10:50 AM on June 8, 2009

So it's right on the elbow, like so whenever you bend/straighten your arm it disturbs the wound?
posted by inigo2 at 11:01 AM on June 8, 2009

Scabs take a lot longer to heal when they're on moving parts. Keep doing what you're doing and it should be fine. If you see red puffiness outlining the wound try washing it with peroxide to avoid infection.
posted by valadil at 11:14 AM on June 8, 2009

IANAD, but it looks like it's healing more-or-less normally. You should wash it regularly with soap and water, and change the bandages every day. Since the skin's healed over already (based on your description), I'd even say that that you can use regular bandages. This will form more of a "solid" scab.

Good luck!
posted by Citrus at 12:11 PM on June 8, 2009

I would keep it neosporin-ed (if you get the gel) and bandaged, the wound can be kept relatively moist, which would alleviate some of the pulling/tightness when you move your elbow, but eventually you'll have to let it dry out to complete the healing. IANAD.
posted by sarajane at 12:49 PM on June 8, 2009

I race bikes and, as a result, have had to deal with a lot of road rash in my life. What I've learned is that things heal much faster and cleaner with less scarring when you can prevent a scab from forming. There are many ways to do this, but the easiest is to keep applying neosporin, keep it covered relatively loosely with some gauze to keep it clean.

Remove the dressing when you shower (you can gently scrub it clean in the shower with a piece of soft, clean gauze and, if you want, some iodine) and reapply the dressing afterwards. Scrapes heal pretty well within about a week of you do this -- it can take much longer if you let it scab.

So it sounds like you're basically doing the right thing, so just keep at it. Don't hold back with the antibiotic ointment -- add enough to ensure it doesn't dry out during the day.
posted by dseaton at 2:11 PM on June 8, 2009

This sounds like a scar. Scars can be red and inflamed.

In fact, I have a few scars that followed that exact pattern - scabbed up, then the scab went away and it looked like... fresh red skin. But it never went away, and didn't sting (like skinning your knee does).

My bet is it's a scar. Go buy some Mederma (or generic) and rub that on it a few times a day.
posted by phrakture at 3:12 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

My bet is it's a scar. Go buy some Mederma (or generic) and rub that on it a few times a day.

Actually this makes sense since the very top layer of this is now insensitive (doesn't hurt if I touch it very gently). Should I keep a bandaid on it?
posted by Malad at 8:45 AM on June 9, 2009

Also, thanks for all the help, everyone!
posted by Malad at 8:45 AM on June 9, 2009

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