Dealing with chronic wounds

Wound healing can be quite a complex and difficult problem to deal with. A simple small cut or abrasion can quickly turn into a non-healing wound if not properly managed. Chronic or non-healing wounds may include diabetic foot, bedsores, venous sores, cancer burns, burn wounds or wounds from surgery. 

This process of healing can according to Harvard Health can take much longer to heal if you are elderly, sometimes many months. Dr. Dennis Orgill, a surgeon and medical director of the Wound Care Center at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital stated that “The body’s capacity to repair the skin diminishes as we get older. There aren’t as many growth factors and stem cells in the skin. Chronic disease, especially blood vessel disease, and malnutrition can also slow the healing process,”

Difficult to heal wounds

There are some wounds that according to Harvard Health are notorious for delayed healing. The reasons why they are difficult are as a result of 

  1. Diabetes -People with diabetes may also have decreased blood flow, particularly to the lower legs and feet
  2. Pressure – Pressure injuries are also called bedsores, which sound like small irritations. But these are serious wounds that can suddenly become quite large or deep. The wounds develop when there’s pressure (from lying down or sitting) on areas where the bones are prominent — like the heels, buttocks, hips, head, and lower back. That pressure cuts off blood flow to the soft tissues on top of the bones
  3. Venous insufficiency – In some older adults, the veins lose their ability to effectively move blood back to the heart. This can cause significant leg swelling and skin ulcers
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How to deal with stubborn wounds

Get help 

The help of a qualified wound care sister or medical doctor is essential. They will be able to assist and guide you through the process of wound healing. 

This may include 

  1. Managing any infections
  2. Removing dead skin and foreign matter
  3. Pain management
  4. Selecting appropriate gels or creams to assist. 
  5. Designing a proper wound management program 

What you can do?

According to Harvard Medical, there is something patients can do to assist in the wound care process. 

Offloading. Keeping pressure off the wound is necessary to get the blood flowing back to the area. The way you offload depends on the wound location.

Exercise. “When a person can walk, it gets pressure off the wound and stimulates the body to heal,” Dr. Orgill says.

Supplements. Vitamin C and zinc are essential to enable cells to multiply. “A multivitamin should be enough for most people. If you’re not healing well, it may be worth checking your nutrient levels to see if you need additional supplements,” Dr. Orgill says.

A healthy diet. Nutrients are most potent when they come from diet. A key to wound healing is protein — from lean meat, fish, or poultry as well as legumes, nuts, and seeds — which provides the amino acids necessary to rebuild the skin. On average, women need 46 grams of protein per day and men need 56 grams, but you may need more. A healthy diet also includes a wide variety of vegetables, some fruit, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods.

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