Daytime Wounds Heal Faster Than Those Sustained During Nighttime

Daytime WoundsA new study suggests that wounds sustained during the daytime heal faster than those sustained at night. In fact, the body’s circadian rhythm (circadian clock) plays an important role in healing. Recent research led by John O’Neill, from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, in collaboration with NHS colleagues Ken Funn, from the Manchester Burns and Plastic Surgery Service, and John Blaikley, from the Centre for Respiratory Medicine and Allergy in Manchester, has proven that circadian clocks are in every individual cell in the human body and not just in the brain as previously thought. It is like a clock or timer which tells the body when to wake up, eat and sleep in a cycle. Each cycle lasts about 24 hours. The researchers found that the circadian clock can influence the rate at which skin cells repair damage, and begin to heal scrapes and cuts.

Fibroblasts are a type of cell that is responsible for wound healing. Fibroblasts are triggered by Actin, a protein to invade the area of a wound and they in turn produce restorative proteins such as collagen to repair the damage and grow new skin. The study found that the proteins in the skin cells are likely to work in “daytime shifts”. For the study, the researchers collected data from 118 burn patients and the data showed that patients who had a burn injury during nighttime hours took an average of 11 days longer to heal than patients who sustained similar wounds during the day. To further confirm the findings, the research team observed skin cells grown in a petri dish as well as the living skin, wounds that were produced at different times of the day and also noted the rate at which skin cells migrated to the vulnerable area. The result of the observation was injuries that occurred during the day healed faster than those that occurred at night. During the second phase of the study, the study team investigated how wounds healed in mice. The team reported that nearly twice as many fibroblasts moved to the spot of a wound compared to their movement at night. However, these findings were reversed in nocturnal mice, where skin cells moved more quickly and injuries that occurred at night healed faster as the mice were most active.

The study suggests that patients could recover faster from surgery if they schedule it based on their circadian rhythms, which vary slightly by individual. These findings could also lead to the development of new medications that stimulate actins to “get motivated”, despite the time of day.

Regardless of the time when the wound has sustained, all the details of the wound should be documented accurately. Woundcare EHR assists healthcare providers to document wound details accurately, thereby enabling them to quickly make well-informed treatment decisions.