Body, Heal Thyself
Reader's Digest UK|March 2021
Why do wounds mend more slowly as we age?
Christina Frangou

WHEN A CHILD gets a scrape, a kiss from their grown-up and a day or two with a plaster is usually all that’s needed. When it happens to an adult, it takes more time to heal—in fact, a 40-year-old’s wound can take twice as long as the identical wound on a 20-year-old. And the process slows more the older you get.

We’re all familiar with this phenomenon, of course, but you might wonder what’s behind it. “We actually don’t have a complete answer,” admits Dr Dennis Orgill, medical director of the Wound Care Center at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the US. “But in my experience, it’s a slow decline from birth on.” That delay in healing can put us at higher risk of infection and prolonged pain.

To repair a wound, the body embarks on a complicated and spectacular process, recruiting a variety of cells to work together to stop the bleeding, then restore and rebuild the skin. And as we age, changes in our bodies can disrupt that process.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM READER'S DIGEST UKView All

STING “I Make Records Out Of Love And Curiosity”

Sting returns to a place of collaborative creativity with the release of his new album Duets; even if, in almost every other way, he continues to find comfort, innocence and improvement in blissful isolation

8 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
Reader's Digest April 2021

Living With Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating but carries a heavy, invisible burden—it’s not just damp patches and deodorants

7 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
Reader's Digest April 2021

YOU'VE GOT TO MOVE IT MOVE IT

We hear endlessly how good exercise is for our health, but you might be surprised to know just how good

2 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
Reader's Digest April 2021

If I Ruled The World Mark Galeotti

Dr Mark Galeotti is a scholar and writer, whose career has stretched from being attached to the British Foreign Office to teaching about organised crime in Moscow

3 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
Reader's Digest April 2021

In One Ear

This month, Olly Mann ponders the sentimentality of forgotten audios, and why he won't be throwing them out

4 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
Reader's Digest April 2021

Boy George I REMEMBER…

Boy George (59) is a British singer, songwriter, DJ and fashion designer, best known as the lead singer of the pop band Culture Club. Here, he looks back on growing up in south-east London, Band Aid and overcoming drug addiction

7 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
Reader's Digest April 2021

14 Books Helping Our Key Workers Survive

Books are valuable for so much more than simply reading, they're for sharing, escaping, learning and growing.

10 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
Reader's Digest April 2021

Home Remedies From Around The World

These 12 folk treatments are proven to work

10+ mins read
Reader's Digest UK
Reader's Digest April 2021

Meditative Gaming For Mental Health

Jenessa Williams explores the surprising role that video games can play in managing our mental health

8 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
Reader's Digest April 2021

Spain's Best-Kept Secret

Asturias, with its gorgeous sea-to-sky landscapes and world-class cuisine, is like a country all its own

9 mins read
Reader's Digest UK
Reader's Digest April 2021