When Wounds Are Slow to Heal

March 4, 2021
If you suffer from one or more chronic wounds, you know how frustrating it is. The skin is our largest organ and has high plasticity, meaning it takes on and heals from many traumas and injuries over your lifetime. That being said, when your skin and its many layers seem to be working against you instead of for you, you may wonder if your wound will ever heal. Many things can be done to help those suffering from chronic wounds, and Hancock Health has specialists dedicated to wound care.

Why isn’t my wound healing?

A chronic wound is defined as either a slow-healing wound, recurring wound, or one that fails to heal completely. There can be many reasons a wound doesn’t heal. Lifestyle factors, including a poor diet, not getting enough movement to offload the wound, smoking, and taking certain medications, can all contribute. Many times, a wound doesn’t heal because of an infection or bacterial invasion. Other causes that you may not have control over include dead skin cells, medical conditions such as diabetes or vascular disease, age, immobility, significant trauma to the skin area, surgery, deep burns, and trophic ulcers.

What does the normal healing process look like?

Normally, there are three stages to the healing process.

  1. Inflammatory: This occurs immediately, and the wound looks swollen and reddish or bruised. A blood clot will most likely form underneath the wound (which is normal) and then will expand to allow blood to rush in and circulate throughout the area. Additionally, white blood cells will flood the area to fight infections and ward off bacteria.
  2. Fibroblastic: This second phase of healing includes the growth of collagen within the wound. During this time period, the edges of the wound begin to heal toward the center, eventually closing up at the original opening. Capillaries will then form to serve the new skin.
  3. Maturation: During this stage, the body constantly adds more collagen and refines the area further. This can take months or even years, which is why scars tend to fade over time. This is also the reason why we must care for our wounds even after they’ve closed.

Can I help it along?

Our bodies are amazing vehicles of self-healing. Given proper nourishment, they can go a long way in providing a lifetime of health. That is why diet is a large part of healthy skin and healing chronic wounds. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C, is a perfect place to start. You can also exercise regularly (with a doctor’s approval) to keep fresh blood flowing, keep the wound dressed and warm, manage well any contributing conditions such as diabetes, quit smoking, wash your hands frequently, and protect your wound from added trauma or injury. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience fever, discharge or pus, increasing pain, or return bleeding.

Our dedicated physicians and specialists at the Center for Wound Healing at Hancock Regional Hospital are trained in helping patients with chronic wounds. We offer state-of-the-art wound care in a convenient outpatient setting. Treatments include patient education, physical therapy, pain management, infectious disease management, debridement (removal of dead tissue), radiology, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. If you are suffering from a slow-healing wound, let us help you on your healing journey! Visit our Wound Care and Infectious Disease page for more information or learn more by calling (317) 462-5544.

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