Aspirin slows the body’s ability to regenerate new skin over the wound site.

Wound care is a delicate process affected not only by what dressings you use and how clean you keep the affected area, but also what you put into your mouth. The foods you eat play a big role in determining how well your wound will heal, as do the drugs you ingest. Some medications, such as antibiotics, may enhance the body’s ability to repair damaged tissue while others can be detrimental to the healing process. Aspirin, for instance, has been shown to delay healing.

What is aspirin?

Aspirin may be a common, household item found in most cabinets, but many people are unaware of its proper uses and side effects. This over-the-counter medication is used to ease mild to moderate pain, like headaches and sore muscles, thanks to its non-steroidal anti-inflammatory properties that block natural chemicals in the body tied to the sensation of pain. It also serves as a fever reducer.

Sometimes, clinicians recommend patients take low doses of this drug, as it is a well-known blood thinner. In severe cases, it can cause bleeding from the intestines and stomach, signs of which include bloody stool or vomit and persistent abdominal pain.

Aspirin’s effect on wounds

Aspirin is known to cause bleeding in the intestines and stomach, but it can also negatively affect wound healing, delaying skin repair at the affected site. It does so by the way it interacts with keratinocytes, key skin cells essential to the restoration of the outermost layer of skin – the epithelial layer – over the surface of the wound. These keratinocytes migrate across the wound to develop the epithelial layer, stimulated by a molecule called 12-HHT. This molecule is produced by the body during the process of blood coagulation. However, since aspirin thins the blood, it reduces coagulation and in effect, the production of 12-HHT. In turn, keratinocyte migration across the wound surface is slowed, thereby delaying the development of new skin.

Alternatives to aspirin

Due to the drug’s capacity to slow wound healing, you should talk to a clinician before starting an aspirin regimen. There are also alternative options to aspirin. For pain relief, ibuprofen may be more suitable for someone recovering from a wound, as it has very mild blood-thinning properties. Others may turn to herbal remedies such as kratom, turmeric and curcumin. Remember to contact your physician first, if you are being treated for a wound, before taking any over-the-courter medication or herbal remedy.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.