During the wound healing process, it can be hard to tell whether your wound is healing properly or becoming infected. One of the easiest and most common indicators of how a wound is healing—besides noting how the wound itself feels—is to examine the color of your wound.
Wound colors tell us a lot about how your wound is healing and what stage of the healing process your wound is at. Noting whether your wound is pink or black, if the skin appears healthy or if you develop yellow-green skin around your wound, and watching your scab color progress are three simple ways to monitor your wound healing process.
While the exact shading of your wound may vary based on the wound type, age, and location, important wound colors typically fall into one of four categories: red, pink, yellow, and black.
Daily wound dressing changes are the perfect time to inspect the overall health of your wound, and watch for the development of these four common wound colors:
What bright red means in a wound
A red wound with fresh, brightly colored tissue is a good healing sign. The red color indicates the formation of granulation tissue.
Healthy granulation tissue is firm to the touch, slightly shiny, and is one of the first signs of proper wound healing. This kind of tissue is rich in collagen, an essential element for skin growth, and gets its reddish color because of the presence of newly formed blood vessels that help promote the growth of new tissue over the wound.
During this stage of the wound healing process, it’s important to care for this granulation tissue by protecting it from bacteria and providing it with balanced moisture. Physical trauma and bacteria can both prolong the wound healing process—and cause increased discomfort. But with a slightly acidic wound care solution, like Dakin’s Solution, and daily dressing, you can keep your wound clean, healthy, and healing.
As this red granulation wound heals, it should move to the next stages: light pink, then shiny pink as the scab naturally detaches.
Pink skin around wound
As a wound continues to heal, the red tissue will transition to a lighter pink color, which is a very good sign for your wound’s progression. This pink tissue under and around a scab is known as epithelial tissue. The formation of epithelial tissue is a good indication that your wound is entering the final stages of healing.
Epithelial tissue is the outer layer of tissue that covers the vital organs and blood vessels throughout your body. Your epidermis, the outermost layer of skin on your body, is also made of this tissue.
As your wound heals, it’s important to continue to protect this still-delicate layer of tissue until it is completely healed. While your wound color is pink, you should continue to treat the wounded area with care, until your doctor advises otherwise.
A yellow wound can indicate improper healing
If you notice yellow granulation tissue, yellow skin around your wound or stitches, or a yellow layer across the surface of your wound, slough tissue may be delaying your wound healing process.
Slough tissue is an early sign of infection. Greenish-yellow tissue is a form of necrotic tissue—skin that has died and is beginning to break down. Necrotic tissue is a serious wound development, and suggests your wound is stuck in a prolonged inflammatory phase.
A slough wound that’s showing yellow tissue presents an open opportunity for bacteria and infection to set in—worsening the wound and further delaying healing, especially when present in surgical wounds. If the wound remains yellow for a period of time, it’s strongly advised to consult your doctor about the best course of treatment.
Call your doctor at the first sign of black skin around your wound
If your wound begins to turn black, or forms a dark, leathery brown tissue covering, this is an indication of pervasive necrotic tissue. Necrotic tissue can be a significant health concern and warrants immediate medical attention.
An open wound turning black suggests the presence of necrotic tissue known as eschar. Eschar greatly inhibits the growth and maturation of new skin by choking the wound from oxygen and blood flow, while killing the surrounding skin. If left untreated, eschar tissue can continue to progress—and even spread to other parts of the body.
If you notice a surgical wound or cut turning black, contact your physician immediately.
The first step towards healthy wound healing is infection prevention
Dakin’s wound care solutions offer an effective, non-irritating, and affordable way to stop infection before it starts—while killing at least 99.99999% of MRSA and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) in only 30 seconds. Plus, Dakin’s non-cytotoxic formulation doesn’t slow the wound healing process.
To order Dakin’s for your patients or yourself:
Have questions about our line of wound care products? Contact our team.