Wounds and How They Heal -- Or Don't

 

Chronic wounds affect an estimated 6.5 million people in the United States each year. 

 

Center for Wound Management
Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital

351 S. Patterson Avenue

(805) 696-7920

Wounds come from a variety of different medical conditions, and they don't heal for many different reasons. Typically, a wound that does not respond to normal medical care within 30 days is considered a problem or chronic wound.

 

 

Resources

Modeling How Wounds Heal

Phases of Wound Healing

Many conditions may benefit from wound care:

    diabetic wounds of the lower extremities
    crush injuries
    wounds that have not healed after several weeks
    gangrene
    post-radiation tissue injury
    pressure ulcers
    diabetes-related foot and ankle ulcers
    trauma wounds
    arterial insufficiency ulcers
    compromised grafts and flaps
    wounds caused by poor circulation
    necrotizing soft tissue infections

 

 

Learn more:

Wounds

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

What to Expect

Patient Story: Joel

Ostomate Resources

Links

What is an ulcer?

Ulcers are wounds that develop on the skin, which are seen most frequently in diabetics or others who have low potential to heal from injury. Ulcers can be brought about by many conditions, and although they have many causes, they are marked by:

    loss of integrity of the area
    secondary infection of the site by bacteria, fungus or virus
    generalized weakness of the patient
    delayed healing

 

The three most common chronic non-healing wounds are pressure ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers, and venous leg ulcers:

 

Pressure ulcers

A pressure ulcer, also known as pressure sore, bedsore, and decubitus ulcer, is an area of tissue that is damaged when soft tissue is pressed between a bony area and another surface for an extended period of time. Pressure ulcers happen most commonly over areas such as the hip, tailbone, buttock, or heel in people with limited mobility due to illness or injury. The amount of pressure placed on the area, how long it is pressed, and the overall health of the patient all have an effect on the amount of skin damage. Once the injury has occurred, it can take weeks or months to heal. Ulcer severity is often classified using the Wagner system, with the severity labeled 1 (superficial) through 5 (most severe).

 

Diabetic foot ulcers

Diabetes affects many body systems, including the nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and immune system. These factors can make a diabetic person more likely to get a foot infection or wound. Once a wound starts, it can be difficult to heal. Diabetics may acquire small cuts or sores on their feet or lower extremities that develop into serious wounds. About 20 percent of these wounds become so severe that they result in amputation. Vascular disorders may result in chronic venous stasis ulcers, and conditions that cause immobility may result in severe, hard-to heal pressure ulcers. Because every patient’s wound is unique, each will have a thorough diagnostic exam to identify the patient’s type of wound and its underlying causes. A program specifically tailored to the patient needs and based on the most effective treatment options will begin. Diversified Clinical Services’ Wound Care Centers heal nearly 90 percent of their patients’ chronic wounds.

 

Venous leg wounds

Venous ulcers are caused by vein damage. Blood collects in the legs, causing swelling and weeping wounds. The skin can become discolored and looked stained. Arterial disease can also cause wounds on the lower parts of the legs, and are hard to heal because the flow of blood to the wound is reduced.

 

Healing and Treatment

For anyone who has developed an ulcer, medical attention should be sought immediately so that a course of care and treatment may be initiated. The Wound Care Center offers the most advanced therapies and treatments for problem wounds.

 

A variety of measures may help avoid ulcers in those who may be susceptible:

    debridement: removal of dead tissue
    infection control: use of antiseptics and antimicrobobials, along with frequent changing of dressings
    nutritional support: administering vitamins and minerals -- including vitamins A and C and zinc -- in appropriate doses

 

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