How You Can Help Heal Your Wound
Sometimes a wound just won’t heal. Treating and preventing wounds is an inextricable link to being healthy and well. If a wound gets infected, your body’s resources are all going toward trying to recover from the infection and any other ailments (such as a wound) are neglected. Wound care specialists have a mission to pick up the body’s slack so that their patients can continue to fight infections and heal at the same time without any additional incidents that will hinder the road to health and healing.
As humans, our skin is an organ that is plastic. According to The Mayo Clinic our skin can bounce back from multiple insults and injuries throughout our lifetime. Our skin is under constant stress from multiple environmental factors such as:
- the sun’s rays
- a mountain of other stressors
When the stress on the flesh has a high impact, the result is a wound.
Wounds are classified in a variety of ways.
- Open vs. Closed: Open wounds are any wounds that have underlying tissue that can be seen and are open to any environmental contaminants. Closed wounds are injuries that have no organs or tissue that are open to the air.
- Chronic vs. Acute: Acute wounds heal with no complication and they do so in a way that is somewhat predictable. Chronic wounds are slow to heal and often involve complications such as infection.
- Clean vs. Contaminated: Clean wounds are free from any debris or foreign materials. Contaminated wounds (infected) contain bacteria and often may have dirt or other foreign materials in them.
Wound Healing Stages
Wounds go through stages in healing as they repair. Wound healing is not sequential. A wound can progress forward and have a setback as the pathway to healing is followed.
- Inflammatory Phase: Inflammation is the body’s natural response to an injury. A clot forms at this time to stop the wound from bleeding. Dilated blood vessels make way for cells that are essential to healing to reach the wound. This can cause redness of the flesh, swelling, the wound may feel hot, and the pain may increase.
- Proliferation Phase: The human body has the ability to rebuild itself. This occurs during the proliferation phase. The wound may “throb”. This is the contractions that are felt as blood vessels are rebuilding themselves so that the wound can get enough oxygen and nutrients that will bring about healing. The tissue will become a variation of pink to red in color and the texture will be uneven. The wound will not bleed as easily as it did. Once this stage comes close to the end there will be a layer of new cells that will resurface the wound.
- Maturation Phase: When a wound fully closes and the scar on it starts to fade, the wound has hit the maturation phase. This phase can begin approximately three weeks from the date of the initial injury and can last for up to year, possibly more. Keep in mind that any skin that has been wounded is going to be weaker than uninjured flesh.
Factors That Hinder Wound Healing
Wounds are finicky. Wound healing is a five steps forward two steps back process for some patients. There are many factors that can have an adverse effect on a wound and create a situation where the would either heals slowly, or reoccurs.
Age: As we age everything in our body begins to change. This includes our skin and the way it functions. The process of aging causes our body and it’s organs to slow down. This includes the body’s ability to heal from wounds and injuries. Aging skin is thinner akin. In addition, the body’s inflammatory response is hindered. Thinner skin is prone to injury and if it is wounded it will heal far slower. For this reason, many skilled nursing facilities have a wound care specialist on staff and employ nurses who are certified in wound care.
Diet: You have to feed your body the proper nutrients so that it will produce the cells that repair wounds. Eating plenty of meat will assist everything your wound care specialist is doing for you. If you do not eat meat, fish and poultry are beneficial as well as tofu. Additional foods that will rev up the healing process include (but are not limited to):
- greek yogurt
- green beans
- nuts and seeds
Keep in mind, these are foods that will accelerate all that your wound care specialist does for you. On the contrary, if you’re not eating properly your healing will be hindered greatly. Your body needs fuel for everything it does. Think of these foods as premium fuel. If you aren’t eating these foods, you have to maintain a regular diet at the very least in order to heal properly.
Weight: If you are more than 20% over your ideal body weight it is likely you may have problems with healing and will be at a greater risk of infection, especially if you are Diabetic as well.
Moisturized Skin: Your skin needs an ample amount of moisture for health. If you tend to get dry skin easily (especially aging skin) this can put you at a risk for lesions and infection. Skin that is too wet, though, creates a risk for maceration and infection. Keeping a level of moisture that is optimal is urgent when it comes to the healing of wounds.
Chronic Illness: There are a number of chronic diseases that can have a severely negative impact on the body’s ability to heal naturally. Heart conditions, diabetes, immunodeficiency diseases (Lupus, Systemic Scleroderma, Etc) can greatly impair the rate your body heals from surgeries or other wounds.
Medicines: If you have several doctors, it sometimes happens that you are put on medications that hinder what another doctor is attempting to treat. If you are in the process of healing from a wound you should not be taking aspirin or ibuprofen. These over the counter medications wreak havoc on the body’s inflammation stage of healing. Ask your doctor(s) if you are taking any NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). If you are on any anticoagulants, these can disrupt the clotting that is needed for a wound to heal. Immunosuppressants can cause the immune system to become incredibly weak and heighten the risk of infection.
You are a part of the team along with your doctors and specialists. Keep yourself educated on what to do to do your part. And remember, the only bad question is the one that never gets asked.