There are many reasons why a wound can occur on the body, whether it is due to an accident, pressure injuries or the result of a surgical procedure. Although the body is amazing at healing itself, it’s important that wounds are cared for appropriately to ensure a healthy and full recovery.
In this article, we take a look at the questions “Why is wound care important?” and “What happens when a wound doesn’t heal?”. We also discuss the importance of using the right wound dressing to ensure a smooth and timely recovery.
What is the normal wound healing process?
Skin wounds usually follow a similar pattern when it comes to the healing process. It can be helpful to think of the wound healing process in three stages.
Stage 1: Inflammation
In the inflammatory phase, the body will try to prevent blood loss by tightening the blood vessels. Special blood cells called platelets will clump together to form clots. Once the clotting is completed, the blood vessels will open wider and allow maximum blood flow to the wound. White blood cells will rush to the wound and help destroy bacteria. In this stage, the wound may look red and feel warm from the increased blood supply.
Stage 2: Strengthen
In the strengthening stage of the healing process, the wound edges will start to close over and the size of the wound will shrink. This happens because there is an increase in the production of collagen, a protein that helps strengthen the skin. Small blood vessels called capillaries will form and supply blood to the newly formed skin tissue.
Stage 3: Maturation
The body will continue to provide collagen to the affected area, strengthening and refining the wound. This process can take a long time, sometimes even years depending on the severity of the wound. Scars that formed at the site may fade with time.
What happens if a wound doesn’t heal?
Not all wounds follow the three stages outlined above and complications may form if a wound gets stuck in any of the stages. Wounds that don’t heal normally over time, or heal and then keep forming, are called chronic wounds.
Reasons why a wound might not heal properly include:
- wound infection – the body will fight the infection instead of healing the wound
- persistent bleeding – this can keep the wound edges apart
- medical conditions – conditions like diabetes and anaemia can restrict blood flow to the area
- pressure ulcers – also known as bed sores, these can form if a patient’s movement is restricted
- smoking – smoking can slow down the healing process and increase the risk of further complications
- poor nutrition – the body needs certain nutrients like vitamin C to heal properly
- some types of medicine – certain drug types can affect the healing process
Why is wound care important?
Proper wound care is important to ensure an effective recovery. Poor wound management can result in chronic wounds which can be painful and emotionally distressing for patients.
Chronic wounds may require the patient to take time off work or spend time in hospital which may affect their wellbeing. Chronic wounds also increase the risk of bigger complications such as wound infection and amputation.
Taking care of chronic wounds can also be a financial burden on healthcare providers, one that can often be avoided through proper wound management.
What are the treatment options for traumatic wounds and surgical wounds?
When designing a treatment plan for a wound, it should follow the principles of wound management by:
- Providing for the patient’s individual needs
- Being appropriate for the wound type
- Helping the patient heal normally
- Preventing wound problems from developing
Healthcare professionals may recommend a range of treatment options, depending on the type of wound, how old the patient is, if they have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking medication. Wounds can take longer to heal in older people and people with conditions such as diabetes or anaemia.
In addition to cleaning and dressing the wound (more on that below) a healthcare professional may provide care by:
- giving the patient pain relief medication
- encouraging the patient to eat a diet high in vitamin C
- suggesting exercises to help maintain blood flow to the affected area
- treating wound problems that arise, such as infections and leg ulcers
- treating other medical conditions that may prevent the wound from healing properly
- reviewing other medication the patient is taking that may be affecting the healing process
- recommending surgery if needed
Choosing the right wound dressings
After making a wound assessment, it is important to choose the right dressing for the type of wound and the individual needs of the patient. Selecting the ideal wound dressing can help speed up the healing process, prevent wound infections and improve the patient’s quality of life.
The dressing material should be easy to remove and replace. It shouldn’t stick to the wound surface or cause damage to the wound bed. The dressing should also help the wound stay moist, but not to the point where the tissue becomes too soft or macerated. For most wound types, healthy levels of moisture will help new tissue to grow and improve the healing process.
Sometimes patients may need to dress their own wound at home. It is very important that they understand why wound care is important and how to do it effectively. Healthcare professionals should clearly communicate the principles of wound management to patients who will need to dress their own wounds. Dressing their wound in the right way will help avoid complications and ensure an effective recovery.
Wound dressings and medical supplies for better recovery
At LFA First Response, we know the important role that high quality, treatment-specific supplies play in helping a quick and healthy recovery. We offer a wide range of wholesale medical supplies for wound care including non-adherent dressings, gauze swabs, bandages, waterproof dressings and many more.
Whatever your needs are, our friendly and knowledgeable team will help make sure you have the wound care supplies you need. We can also provide guidance and advice about legislation compliance if you require. For more information, get in touch with us today and we’d be happy to help.