A Band-Aid by Any Other Name Will Help a Spot Heal
If you are a person of a certain age, you grew up hearing that you should “air out” a cut or sore. I thought that also until a nurse told me after one of my many procedures that it is actually better to bandage a cut or sore. That is, unless it’s a tiny little thing.
Wound healing advice
Plastic surgeon Christi Cavaliere, MD, explained why on the Cleveland Clinic website: “Airing out most wounds isn’t beneficial because wounds need moisture to heal. Leaving a wound uncovered may dry out new surface cells, which can increase pain or slow the healing process. Most wound treatments or coverings promote a moist — but not overly wet — wound surface,” she wrote. A gauze of bandage “keeps new skin and other cells alive. It also helps protect the area from dirt, germs, and further injury.”1
Fighting to heal my skin cancer spot
Since I possessed the information, I was able to apply it to a troublesome spot on my cheek after my dermatologist disappeared for four days. Still, I was worried that it wasn’t working when I took the Band-Aid off after a day and part of it was still bloody, with a little white spot on it. I had a vague unease. I wondered, “Are my platelets low?”
Worrying about healing issues
This is another kind of sore spot – some form of PTSD – stemming from my leukemia diagnosis, treatment, and two relapses. Low platelets were one of the signs that I had acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive blood cancer, as they were when I relapsed after treatment.
I also might be a bit of a hypochondriac, or over-worrier, to put it more kindly. When they talk about spots that don’t heal, they probably don’t mean for only two days. Playing tennis and sweating didn’t help. This made the Band-Aid slip off. It disrupted all my good work.
What role do platelets play in the healing process?
Hereby the way is a good description of the role of platelets, courtesy of the University of Rochester Medical Center: “Platelets are tiny blood cells that help your body form clots to stop bleeding. If one of your blood vessels gets damaged, it sends out signals to the platelets. The platelets then rush to the site of damage. They form a plug (clot) to fix the damage.”2
Bandaging and making healing progress
After a couple of tries, I put on a heavier Band-Aid. I’m not a fan - They hurt more when you take them off. But it stayed on better. I left it on for two nights and one day. This morning, anticipation built when I looked in the mirror and pulled it off. And, drumroll...It had started to heal. The little white spot was gone. The bleeding had stopped. I felt so relieved!
I wasn’t sure if I should cover it back up, so I checked the web.
The Band-Aid website says: “Uncovering your wound when it is partially healed risks scabbing and re-injury, both of which may delay healing and increase scarring.”3 But are they saying that just to sell more Band-Aids?
Johns Hopkins Medicine backs this up, stating that after biopsies, “The average time for daily band-aid changes is 5 to 6 days (range is from 1 or 2 days up to 2 weeks)...Continue to change the band-aids daily until there are no open wounds.”4
Call the bandage what you want
Hey, did you know that Band-Aid is the trademarked name of an adhesive bandage made by Johnson & Johnson? Apparently, the Johns Hopkins writer didn’t know, because he or she didn’t capitalize it. It is among many brands at risk of so-called “trademark genericization,” meaning that consumers see them not as a single product but as an entire category.
You and I might not think the difference is important, but companies want to protect their identity. I learned about this back in my newspaper days when I wrote about someone grabbing a Kleenex. I got a note saying, “You may not realize it, but by using the name Kleenex® as a generic term for tissue, you risk erasing our coveted brand name that we’ve worked so hard for all these years. Kleenex® is a registered trademark and should always be followed by a ® and the words ‘Brand Tissue’.” I thought that was funny and tacked the note to the board outside the break room.
Just remember, whether you call it a Band-Aid® or adhesive covering, keeping one on is the best way to get that wound to heal.
How well have your skin cancer diagnoses been explained to you?