Between a slip during the recent Wildflower Triathlon, 32 hours spent airplane traveling to Dubai for a speaking commitment, a few hard fought tennis matches at the Pacific Northwest Regionals tennis tournament, and tending to burns that my mother sustained from a boiling water accident, I’ve found myself treating an inordinate amount of blisters, scrapes, bruises, boils and cuts.
In the process, I’ve experimented with methods to get wounds to heal faster. Whether you’ve recently scraped yourself up in a bike accident, sprouted blisters from breaking in new running shoes, or have some other skin condition you need to address, what I’ve found may certainly help you.
Here are my top 4 tips for healing skin faster:
- Honey. A nasty scrape on my thigh completely quit hurting and an infection disappeared rapidly when I began applying a raw, local honey to it 2-3 times a day, then covering it with gauze. Different types of honey have been shown to have antibacterial activity against multiple bacterial species, and one type of honey called “manuka honey” has also been shown to have an inhibitory effect on methicillin-resistant S aureus (MRSA), a common infection encountered in gyms and sporting situations. Topical honey also has antifungal activity, and multiple studies have demonstrated honey to accelerate wound healing, decrease bruising, decrease inflammation, reduce tissue death, and improve circulation. Just be sure you use the real, raw honey – not the stuff you find in the cooking section of the average grocery store.
- Vitamin C. While I’ve simply been using a 1g Vitamin C effervescent tablet 2 times a day, you can also use a topical vitamin C supplement as well. Vitamin C is required to make collagen, the connective tissue in your skin that helps healing and prevents blistering. It also strengthens scar tissue and helps to reduce tissue death and fight off infection.
- Proteolytic enzymes. Proteolytic enzymes, which include compounds like bromelain, papain, trypsin, and chymotrypsin, are a family of proteins that serve to degrade debris that occur from cell breakdown – particularly something called “fibrinogen”. These enzymes can assist with collagen synthesis, removal of scar tissue (especially in areas with limited blood flow), and significantly enhance wound healing, including post-surgery. These help with post-workout soreness, but are also useful if you have a cut, scrape or bruise.
- Tea tree oil. A compound present in tea tree oil called “terpinenol” has significant antimicrobial properties, and tea trea oil also has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. You can simply get tea trea extract from a health food store and mix one part tea tree oil with 10 parts water. Next, dab the diluted oil onto your bare skin with a cottonball, or put the extract on the back side of a bandaid or gauze before you put it over a wound.
I’ve been using each of these methods, and have noticed a significantly accelerated tissue healing response compared to my old method of just grabbing some antibiotic ointment, soap and water, and a bandaid. So if you’re an active individual, I’d highly recommend adding honey, Vitamin C, proteolytic enzymes and tea tree oil to your own wound recovery cupboard.
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TrainingPeaks contributor Ben Greenfield, M.S. PE, NSCA-CPT, CSCS, is recognized as one of the top fitness, triathlon, nutrition and metabolism experts in the nation. For more information on coaching and training with Ben, check out his blog/podcasts,follow him on Twitter, or visit his Facebook page.