SmithAndNephew.CroppedYoung girl holding grazed knee close to chest

Why the myth your wound ‘needs to breathe’ could be doing more harm than good

Scabbed knees, grazes, cuts and lacerations – when your little ones take a tumble, you might think letting the wound ‘get some air’ is the best way forward. Science says not so.

Many of us grew up being told the endless mosaic of cuts, scrapes and grazes we collected as kids were better off “getting some air” in order to scab over and heal.

A bit like “if you swallow that gum it will stay in your stomach for seven years1, it was no doubt well-intentioned advice that has been proved by science to be wrong.

Ironic really, because as far back 2200 BC2 an ancient medical paper described the “three healing gestures” of wound healing as cleaning the site, sticking plaster and bandaging.

Yup, the early precursor to moist wound healing.

What exactly is moist wound healing?

While in those bygone days wound dressings were mixtures of substances including mud or clay, plants and herbs, the basic science was sound.

And that is, keeping wounds moist speeds up healing and helps to prevent scabs forming3.

Here’s a little more detail on why and how:

  • Faster healing: research has found the presence of moisture actually supports the growth of new tissue, crucial for the healing process.
  • Reduced scarring: moist wound healing can lead to less noticeable scarring, helping to create an optimal environment for new tissue formation, minimising tough and rigid scar tissue.
  • Pain relief: a moist wound environment can alleviate pain4 by keeping nerve endings covered and protected, reducing friction and discomfort associated with dry, exposed wounds. We say hurrah.

Is just any moisture OK? No. The wound needs to be kept at the optimal moisture level – not too moist so your skin shrivels like a prune, and not too dry that the wound scabs either.

How do I keep wounds moist at home?

There is an easy way to look after cuts, grazes and stitches for your family and loved ones.

The fact is life’s little accidents are going to happen, so be prepared with OPSITE Post-Op waterproof dressings.

OPSITE Post-Op is a waterproof5, bacteria-proof6 dressing that lasts up to seven days. Less dressing changes means the wound can heal in a moist wound environment for longer.

The low allergy adhesive may also help to minimise the risk of skin irritation7 and – bonus – OPSITE Post-Op uses REACTIC film technology<sup>5</sup> which, put simply, is a breathable film that allows excess moisture to pass through the dressing. What does this mean? It helps lock in those Goldilocks moisture levels at not too little and not too much – just right.

OPSITE Post-Op is Australia’s number 1 selling waterproof dressing. Easy to apply8 and easy to remove8,9, making them perfect for not only the little people in your life, but the busy, big people too!

*This post is brought to you by OPSITE Post-Op. Always read the label and follow the directions for use.

1 Rajan E, M.D, 2019, Mayo Clinic expert answers. Retrieved 8/2023 from

2 Jayesh B. Shah, 2011, The History of Wound Care; The Journal of the American College of Certified Wound Specialists v.3(3) 65-66; 2011 Sep, retrieved 8/2023 from

3 Junker J.P.E et al, 2013, Clinical Impact Upon Wound Healing and Inflammation in Moist, Wet, and Dry Environments. Advances in Wound Care, 2(7): 348–356, retrieved 8/2023 from

4 Korting HC, Schöllmann C, White RJ, 2011, Management of minor acute cutaneous wounds: Importance of wound healing in a moist environment, Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 25(2):130-137. Retrieved 8/2023 from*The preparation of this manuscript was supported by an educational grant from Novartis Consumer Health GmbH, Munich, to Dr C. Schöllmann

5 Smith+Nephew 2009. OPSITE POST-OP Dressing Physical Properties. Internal Report. DS/08/149/R3

6 Smith+Nephew 2018. OPSITE POST-OP Film Bacterial Barrier Justification. Internal Report. RD/18/042

7 Smith+Nephew 2018. Low allergy adhesive claims support for OPSITE POST-OP. Internal Report. PSS305

8 Jester R, Russell L, Fell S, Williams S, Prest C. A one hospital study of the effect of wound dressings and other related factors on skin blistering following total hip and knee arthroplasty. Orthop Nurs. 2000;4(2):71-77

9 Leal A, Kirby P. Blister formation on primary wound closure sites: A comparison of two dressings. Wounds UK. 2008;4:31-37