Chronic Wound Care

When a Wound Won’t Heal


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Most of us take wound healing for granted. If you get a small cut, you may clean and cover it with a bandage, and move on with your life. Yet under that bandage (or in the open air), the body orchestrates a complex cascade of events designed to heal wounds big and small.


Interrupted wound healing

The process seems simple enough, but wound healing is really quite complicated and involves a long series of chemical signals. Certain factors can slow or prevent healing entirely.

One of the most dramatic factors is reduced or poor blood supply to the wound. The oxygen and nutrients that new blood carries to the wound are key to successful healing. A wound that is not getting enough blood could take at least twice as long to heal, if it heals at all. These are called chronic wounds, which are more common in elderly people or people with diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, or other vascular disease. People who smoke are at high risk for poor wound healing.

If you have a wound that is not healing in a reasonable time frame, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. If your injury seems to be getting worse or appears infected — that is, if it is more swollen, warm or hot to the touch, painful, or draining/oozing pus — see a healthcare provider right away. If you smoke, ask your provider for resources that will help you quit.