Have a Wound That Won't Heal?
Disclaimer: This article is not recommending medical advice or treatment. If you have a concern or wound that won’t heal then please see your healthcare provider for more information.
The body is capable of amazing feats. It fights off infections and diseases with white blood cells. It expands your pupils in the dark so you can see better. It tells your lungs to breathe without being prompted. It even repairs itself.
One of the coolest thing the body does is repair itself. Whether it’s a scraped knee or a deep cut, the body has a series of steps that it follows to heal the skin and surrounding tissue.
Stages of Wound Healing:
1. Hemostasis - This phase happens right after a wound occurs and is basically the phase in where the body stops the bleeding. Blood vessels constrict, platelets cover the broken vessel walls, and coagulation occurs.
2. Inflammation - This second stage of wound healing generally begins right after or during hemostasis. This is the point where the injured area begins to swell, looks red, and be tender. Swelling is normal after an injury since it helps control bleeding and prevent infection. The fluid build up allows cells needed for healing to move to the wounded area and remove the damaged ones. Inflammation is part of the healing process, unless it lasts longer than expected.
3. Proliferative Phase - This is the time when the wound starts to scab over and the reconstruction of tissue starts. The granulation tissue (new tissue that starts to form during the healing process) might be pink, red, and have an uneven texture. It should be noted that this tissue is about 80% weaker than healthy tissue.
4. Maturation - This is the final process for a wound to heal. This is the point where the body starts to remodel your skin and tissue. During this phase, you might see scarring or thicker skin in that area where your body creates a criss cross pattern of collagen to try and make the wounded skin stronger.
Most wound are actively healing between a week to three weeks.
But what if your body isn’t starting to healing?
If you find yourself with a wound that is not getting better or getting worse within three weeks or is not fully healed within three months, you might have a chronic wound. This is a term used to describe a wound that isn’t healing properly or in an expected manner.
Reasons A Wound May Not Be Healing Include:
Infection - One of the cool things that your body does is fight off infections, but if your white blood cells are fighting off an infection, then they can’t be focusing on healing your wound. When germs and bacteria begins to multiply, the body will stay in the inflammatory phase longer than it should, slowing down and possibly stopping the healing process.
Signs of infection are prolonged redness in the area, inflammation, fever, the wound is warm/hot to the touch, and pain in the area. While these symptoms are very similar to the effects of the inflammation phase of healing, the inflammatory phase generally last for a period of three to seven days. If these symptoms continue, you should seek a medical opinion to determine if your wound has become infected.
Poor Circulation - The body pumps blood into every part ofyour body, which it needs to survive, carry nutrients and hormones throughout your system, and aids in the healing process. Healing tissue needs blood cells, oxygen, and nutrients in you blood stream to heal a wound. If the wounded area is not getting enough blood then it will take longer to heal. Poor circulation is more likely to happen in older patients or patients with diabetes.
Nerve Damage - Your body has nerves and sensors in it that go to the brain telling you when something is hot, is too much pressure, and when it hurts. People with nerve damage (most common in people with diabetes or over the age of 65) are more likely to develop a wound or sore and not even know it. Pressure sore, ulcers, and small cuts that are left untreated are common chronic wounds that develop with people that have nerve damage.
Bad Nutrition - There’s an old saying that “you are what you eat,” and there’s some truth in it, especially when your body is healing. You need the right nutrients to heal quickly. If you are lacking protein and necessary vitamins, then you may not be providing your body with the resources it needs to repair itself, making the healing process take longer.
Age - As a person ages, their body changes. It will naturally take longer for wounds to heal, it’s harder to fight infections, and there are more health concerns that could be prolonging the healing process. All of these should be evaluated by a doctor if you have a wound that isn’t healing and are over the age of 65.
Underlying Health Problems - People that already have health conditions or chronic diseases are at a higher risk of developing chronic wounds. This goes back to your body already using resources and white blood cells to fight other battles.
What are the dangers of a chronic wound?
But so what? Sure. All of this is interesting. But does it really matter if a wound isn’t healing as quickly as expected?
As Dawn Falls said, “Your skin is your armor.” It acts as a protective barrier from everything else. It protects you from the environment, germs, bacteria, and debris. Any time you have an open wound, you are more susceptible to diseases, infection, scarring, and long term damage.
On top of that, the longer your body is trying to heal itself, your immune system will not be at its full capacity, making you more susceptible to disease. For a younger person, it’a a concern, but for an elderly person or someone who is already sick, this can lead to serious health risks very quickly.
What do you do if you think you might have a chronic wound?
So if you have a wound that is not healing or is getting worse, then you should see your doctor so that they can recommend treatments. Treatments can include rest, antibiotics, or home wound care.
Most people are familiar with the first two, but the last is something that few people have had experience with or only associate with elderly patients. It is true that the home health care industry is dominated by older patients, but if your doctor wants someone to check on your vitals, change wound dressings, or believes you could be at a health risk, then they might recommend home wound care so that you won’t have to go to the doctor’s office or hospital every day.
If this is the option your doctor decides is best for you, then you can expect a nurse to help with changing wrapping, monitoring your pain level, help coordinate your care, and teach you what signs to watch for in the future.
If you are interested in home health care, please note that you need a doctor’s referral or order to start. If they believe it is a good fit, then they can provide you with a list of agencies that they recommend in your area.
If you are interested in our five star patient quality wound care, please continue to our wound care website call 844-57-NURSE to speak to a member of our staff.
Thank you for reading and check back in next Tuesday to find out about the science behind hand sanitizers!