Throughout our lives, we all experience cuts, scrapes, bumps and bruises, which typically heal uneventfully. Our bodies are designed to repair and heal most injuries that occur from minor trauma. Yet why is it that some seemingly innocent appearing wounds seem to take longer to heal -- or sometimes don’t heal at all?
Simply stated, the presence of a chronic or non-healing wound may indicate a far more serious underlying condition or other factors that impair normal wound repair.
When a simple cut or other injury to the skin does not show signs of healing in a timely and orderly fashion, there should be concern. Whether attempts at self-treatment have failed and the wound is not showing any improvement after several weeks, or there is deterioration of the wound, the expertise of a wound specialist is highly recommended.
Signs that a wound is deteriorating may include symptoms of infection such as increased redness and swelling surrounding the wound, pain, foul smelling drainage or all three. The presence of bacteria within a persistent wound may cause a delay in healing but may also be the source of infection. When bacteria from a wound enters the bloodstream, patients may experience more systemic symptoms such as fever, chills, night sweats, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. These symptoms lead to life threatening infection, or sepsis.
Most importantly, certain risk factors may impair the ability of a wound to heal. If you are diabetic, a smoker, take medications such as blood thinners or steroids, or have a prior history of a slow healing wound or amputation, you should not delay seeking treatment.
When you have any of the above symptoms of infection, or you posess any of the risk factors and have a slow-healing wound, a referral to a wound specialist is highly recommended. Time is of the essence. The longer treatment is delayed, the more difficult it becomes for a wound to heal successfully and the greater the risk of developing limb and life- threatening complications.
Author: Dr. Desmond Bell - Chief Medical Officer at Omeza