A wound is any injury to the soft tissue. Wound care specialists typically focus on serious wounds and wounds that do not start to heal after two weeks, or have not fully healed after two months.
Diagnosis typically revolves around determining the severity of your injury and why it is not healing quickly or sufficiently. Screening tests may identify neurological disorders, signs of infection, protein deficiencies in your diet, undiagnosed diabetes, and other conditions.
Your doctor will likely take a detailed history (asking about your symptoms, the onset/how the wound occurred, and other aspects of your experience) during your examination.
For the treatment of major wounds, first aid is often the initial step. This involves stopping any bleeding, cleaning the wound, and closing it if possible.
Non-healing wounds require a different approach. Often, the first step is to remove dead tissue that is not healing in order to stimulate the healing process in the underlying tissue. For this reason, the wound can actually look bigger immediately after beginning treatment, even though it is on its way to healing.
After this step, your doctor may apply a gel or other material to keep the wound wet while preventing infection during the healing process.
Some common wound care treatments and procedures include:
- Artificial skin to cover the wound while it heals
- Compression (through clothing or bandages) to improve blood flow and promote healing
- Debridement to remove dead tissue and allow healthy tissue to begin healing
- Whirlpool baths, enzymes, wet-dry dressings, and other mechanisms to remove dead tissue
- Dressings to protect the tissue and prevent infection
- Growth factor therapy to stimulate cell growth and healing
- Hyperbric oxygen therapy to increase the amount of oxygen your blood carries to the wound
- Negative pressure therapy to promote healing by creating a vacuum over the wound with a special dressing (this increases the blood flow and removes excess fluid)
- Ultrasound to promote healing using sound waves
When to seek emergency care for a wound
Some wound care treatments, such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, need to take place at a wound care center. Others, such as compression, can be done on a more continuous basis at home. You should seek prompt medical care for the following:
- Fever or chills
- Redness, red lines extending from the wound, swelling, or pus
- Worsening pain
Our medical experts are available to discuss your questions and concerns regarding all aspects of wound care.
The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.