An often ignored epidemic, chronic wounds, or wounds that are slow to heal, currently affect close to seven million people in the United States. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, these numbers will likely increase due to an aging population and increases in the numbers of people with diabetes and obesity.
What is a chronic wound?
A chronic wound doesn’t progress through the normal healing phases and has shown no significant progress towards healing in 30 days. Examples of chronic wounds include:
• Diabetic wounds
• Pressure ulcers (bed sores), common to those bedridden or wheelchair-bound
• Swelling and ulcers in lower legs and feet
• Ulcers tied to venous or arterial disease
• Wounds due to injury, accident, or surgery which are not healing properly
Factors that may affect wound healing:
4. Repeated trauma
5. Skin Moisture
6. Chronic Conditions
How to treat wounds:
1. Bio-engineered tissue substitutes: Helps to heal wounds by promoting new skin growth and introducing living cells to create a moist wound environment and structural support.
2. Debridement: Is the removal of dead or infected skin tissue, which helps a wound heal.
3. Platelet growth technology: This stimulates wound healing by promoting cell proliferation and enhancing granulation tissue formation.
4. Dressings and wraps: Helps wounds to heal and prevents further complications
5. Vac ™ Therapy: Promotes healing by delivering negative pressure (a vacuum) at the wound site through a dressing that helps draw wound edges together, removes infectious materials and promotes growth.
6. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: After being placed in a tube-like chamber, the individual is surrounded with 100% oxygen at a higher-than-normal atmospheric pressure that lasts between 90 minutes to two hours.
When it comes to chronic wound care, the most important decision you can make is to see a health professional and get it evaluated, especially if your wound has not started to heal in two weeks or not completely healed in six weeks. Most importantly, please remember that time is tissue – the earlier you can receive treatment, the more likely your wound can be managed.
Dustin Woods, MD, is medical director of Duncan Regional Hospital Health Wound Center.