Music as Noninvasive Tool in Wound Healing


  • Charlotte Schneider University of Vienna



Music is easily available and found everywhere in daily life. Besides of being part of daily life, music has been shown to influence heart rate, skin temperature and frontalis muscle activity. Research has been done on influence of music on skin conductance, heart rate, and cardiovascular measures as well as cortisol levels.

Importantly, music can decrease stress levels in humans [1].

Stress has been divided in positive stress (Eustress) and Distress. While Eustress can increase performance and concentration in the short term, distress leads to the opposite. Hormones like Adrenalin or Noradrenalin are released and without any compensation this leads to discomfort in the subject. This distress arises from cardiovascular and endocrine changes in the bodily function following the activation of the sympathoadrenal medullary (SAM) axis and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Of great importance for this project are glucocorticoids, that exhibit immunosuppressive effects when released during stressful situations [2], that in turn negatively affects wound healing.


In this project I will analyse the data of female participants that have participated in a study about stress and wound healing. Those participants have their stress level elevated by participating in the TSST test. In this study there will be around 120 female participants in the age range of 18-35 years, that are exclusively tested in their follicular phase of their menstrual cycle and not using oral contraceptives. Those participants that report significant decrease in stress while listening to music are compared to those that were not listening to music. Can music decrease stress levels significantly? And does it make a difference in observing healing if the participants listened to music or not?

As a measure for stress I will observe the self reports made by the participants directly after the TSST and after listening to music.

As a measure for wound healing the skin barrier recovery is observed. The skin is impaired by tape stripping, a method where tape is applied and removed repeatedly to remove the upper layer of skin [3]. While the skin heals the amount of water that is lost from the sight decreases, therefore the healing can be observed via the transepidermal water loss (TEWL) using the Tewameter® TM300.

In comparing the data of participants that have been stressed and then listened to calming music, to those that have not listened to music, I hope to observe the potential distressing properties of music and their influence on wound healing.

Using music to decrease stress could lead to incorporating it as a holistic approach to reduce negative influence of stress on wound healing. It could be incorporated knowingly as a tool to decrease stress and therefore help in wound healing.

As a noninvasive method this could make a difference in patient recovery without major changes to medication or medical treatment.


[1] M. De Witte, A. Spruit, S. Van Hooren, X. Moonen, G. Stams, ‘Effects of music interventions on stress-related outcomes: a systematic review and two meta-analyses’, Health Psychology Review vol. 14(2) pp. 294 - 324, 2019

[2] J. Gouin, J. Kiecolt-Glaser, ‘The Impact of Psychological Stress on Wound Healing: Methods and Mechanisms’, Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America vol. 31(1) pp. 81 – 93, 2011

[3] J. Walburn, K. Vedhara, M. Hankins, L. Rixon, J. Weinman, ‘Psychological stress and wound healing in humans: A systematic review and meta-analysis’, Journal of Psychosomatic Research vol. 67(3) pp. 253 – 271, 2009