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How can we deliver oxygen to wounds?

02 May 2021
Volume 5 · Issue 2

How does oxygen work in wound healing? We are all familiar with how necessary oxygen is for life in general. A few minutes of holding your breath (if you can last that long) proves the point quickly. We are taught the basics of how oxygen is important for essential processes such as energy conversion in the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) cycle, yet not typically processes in which oxygen plays a critical role in wound healing.

Oxygen boosts vitality to support increased demand during healing: intracellular processes such as biosynthesis, movement, and transport need energy to be functional. Mechanisms that are more specific to wound healing itself include cell proliferation, angiogenesis, collagen formation, respiratory burst and growth factor signaling transduction, which we'll discuss in more detail.

The practical implications of these mechanisms of action related to oxygen are faster wound healing and closure, with collagen formation that is not only faster, yet stronger, more organized and hence more normal appearing (less scarring). These processes begin shortly after the application of oxygen to a wound. With the continuous, topical application of oxygen, there are several clinical indications that appear within hours or days of application, including pain relief, increased exudate and a general reddening of the wound.

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