Approaches to cutaneous wound healing: basics and future directions

  • Ruijie Zeng
  • Chuangqiang Lin
  • Zehuo Lin
  • Hong Chen
  • Weiye Lu
  • Changmin Lin
  • Haihong Li


The skin provides essential functions, such as thermoregulation, hydration, excretion and synthesis of vitamin D. Major disruptions of the skin cause impairment of critical functions, resulting in high morbidity and death, or leave one with life-changing cosmetic damage. Due to the complexity of the skin, diverse approaches are needed, including both traditional and advanced, to improve cutaneous wound healing. Cutaneous wounds undergo four phases of healing. Traditional management, including skin grafts and wound dressings, is still commonly used in current practice but in combination with newer technology, such as using engineered skin substitutes in skin grafts or combining traditional cotton gauze with anti-bacterial nanoparticles. Various upcoming methods, such as vacuum-assisted wound closure, engineered skin substitutes, stem cell therapy, growth factors and cytokine therapy, have emerged in recent years and are being used to assist wound healing, or even to replace traditional methods. However, many of these methods still lack assessment by large-scale studies and/or extensive application. Conceptual changes, for example, precision medicine and the rapid advancement of science and technology, such as RNA interference and 3D printing, offer tremendous potential. In this review, we focus on the basics of wound treatment and summarize recent developments involving both traditional and hi-tech therapeutic methods that lead to both rapid healing and better cosmetic results. Future studies should explore a more cost-effective, convenient and efficient approach to cutaneous wound healing.

Graphical abstract

Combination of various materials to create advanced wound dressings


Wound healing Skin grafts Wound dressings Engineered skin substitutes Stem cells 



We are thankful to Dr. Stanley Lin for proofreading the article. Our gratefulness also goes to Dr. Weili Feng for his constructive suggestions. This work was supported by the National Undergraduate Training Program for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (201710560037), National Natural Science Foundation of China (81772102, 81471882, 81372084) and Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (2017A030313776).

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shantou University Medical CollegeShantouChina
  2. 2.Department of Histology and EmbryologyShantou University Medical CollegeShantouChina
  3. 3.Burn and Plastic Surgery Department, The Second Affiliated HospitalShantou University Medical CollegeShantouChina

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