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Life in Motion

Fact or Fiction: Licking a Wound Helps it Heal Faster

Health & Prevention

Many of us have heard the phrase “lick your wounds”, which according to the Collins English Dictionary, means to recover after being defeated. Wound licking is an instinctive response in people as well as animals, but does it actually help your wounds to heal faster?

According to NEBH infection prevention experts, this is fiction. Although a 2008 study* found that saliva contains a protein called histatin that can aid in healing, your mouth is also home to a number of other bacteria. These bacteria are harmless while in your mouth, but can cause serious damage, like infection, if introduced into a wound through your saliva.

While we love our pets, it’s important to keep your pets out of your bed and away from any open wounds as they can spread bacteria.

*Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “Licking Your Wounds: Scientists Isolate Compound In Human Saliva That Speeds Wound Healing.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 July 2008. <>.

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