Chronic Wounds: When You Need Treatment - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on May 18, 2016

Chronic Wounds: When You Need Treatment

If a wound doesn’t completely heal in six weeks, it’s considered a chronic wound.

If a wound doesn’t heal in six weeks,
it’s considered a chronic wound.

When you have a cut, burn or another type of wound, your first instinct is to clean it, apply antibacterial lotion and cover it with a bandage until it heals. But sometimes a wound just won’t heal even with your TLC.

If a wound doesn’t completely heal in six weeks, it’s considered a chronic wound. There are a number of reasons and conditions that can inhibit a wound from healing itself. An infection can slow or halt the healing process – this occurs when bacteria gets into your wound, which can happen if there are objects like glass or metal or dead tissue in the wound. Poor blood supply or low oxygen can also slow or stop the healing process. A weak immune system can also lead to a chronic wound. Radiation, certain medications, and diseases such as cancer and diabetes can weaken your immune system and make it harder for your body to fight an infection or heal a wound.

If you have tissue swelling, which can happen with traumatic injuries, it can increase pressure that decreases blood flow to that area thus slowing or stopping the healing process.

When you have a chronic wound, it’s important to have it treated by a healthcare professional, but you have to first recognize that you have a wound that just isn’t healing.

Signs you may have a chronic wound include:

  • The wound has become larger or deeper
  • Bleeding, swelling or pain in the affected area
  • Milky, yellow, green or brown pus in the wound
  • Trouble moving the affected area
  • Dark or black skin around the wound that’s warm to the touch
  • A fever
  • The wound area is pale and cold in addition to a decrease in hair growth and a weak pulse sensation

Additionally, surgical wounds caused by incisions can progress into chronic wounds if the blood supply to the area was accidentally damaged or if wound care insufficient. A healthy and healing surgical wound will have a clean appearance. If it’s become a chronic wound, the tissue around the incision will look red, hot and swollen.

If a wound isn’t healing in a timely manner, treatment is important because it addresses the underlying cause. For instance, if an infection is the root of the problem, it’s imperative to have the infection treated so it doesn’t get worse and cause even more serious complications.

If a weakened immune system is the underlying cause of your chronic wound, your doctor may want to work with you to boost your immune system as well as ensure your wound doesn’t develop a harmful infection.

One of the best ways to treat chronic wounds is to prevent them from progressing into a chronic state. That means maintaining proper hygiene and wound care as well as complying with medications prescribed to you. If you have a condition that can weaken your immune system or slow the healing process, especially diabetes, it’s especially important to regularly inspect wounds and track their healing progress.

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