Chronic wounds can result from a number of different injuries, conditions, and chronic diseases, each with their own treatment challenges and recovery time. While acute injuries typically heal quickly with a lower risk of complication, chronic and non-healing wounds may require a specialized approach to be carried out by a qualified wound care home specialist.
Proper wound care at home may help speed up the recovery process while reducing the chances of infection. Here is an overview of common chronic (non-healing) wounds and what you need to know about treating wounds at home.
What Are the Different Types of Chronic Wounds That Need Specialized Treatment?
There are several types of chronic or non-healing wounds commonly associated with you should be familiar with inadequate circulation, poorly functioning veins, and immobility. In cases where the wound has not improved from conventional treatments, care from a medical professional is needed to appropriately manage the healing process.
- Pressure ulcers — Also known as bed sores or decubitus ulcers, pressure ulcers are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue as a result of prolonged pressure on the skin. Pressure ulcers are a risk for those with medical conditions that reduce their ability to change positions, or those who spend most of their time in a bed or chair. Common locations for these ulcers are the heels, ankles, hips, shoulders, tailbone, or other bony areas of the body. Treatment typically involves cleaning and dressing the wound and utilizing changes in position to reduce pressure on the ulcer.
- Diabetic ulcers — As a diabetic, you are more prone to developing ulcers (open sores) on your skin. This is because high blood-sugar levels over time can damage your nerves and blood vessels and decrease blood flow, making it more difficult for sores and cuts to heal. These ulcers are most likely to occur in your feet and legs, but can occur elsewhere on the body. As an exposed wound, ulcers are susceptible to serious infections if not treated properly.
- Neuropathic ulcers — Typically found in diabetic patients, neuropathic ulcers usually involve open sores that go unnoticed because of damaged nerves that are not able to receive or transmit pain signals. With this lack of sensation, ongoing pressure and microtrauma results in breakdown of overlying tissue and eventual ulceration. Treatment often requires the wound to be thoroughly debrided down to the healthy tissue, allowing for a better healing environment and better assessment of the ulcer and any underlying infections.
- Arterial ulcers — Also known as ischemic ulcers, arterial ulcers often occur on the tips of the toes, heels, or outer ankle where there is pressure from footwear when walking. The cause of these wounds is the lack of blood flow to the lower extremities, as the deprivation of oxygen within the blood can kill tissues and cause an area to form an open wound. In addition, minor abrasions or cuts in lower extremities may fail to heal because of this condition and can eventually develop into ulcers. Treatment for arterial ulcers typically focuses on increasing circulation to the affected area, and taking necessary precautions to decrease the risk of infection.
- Venous stasis ulcers — Venous stasis ulcers are one of the most common leg and foot ulcers, and are a result of weak blood circulation in the limb. These are open sores that do not heal or keep on recurring, and usually occur on the inner part of the leg above the ankle. While diabetes is one of the common causes of this condition, it can be brought on by a number of conditions including failure of the kidney, hypertension, or a history of smoking (among others). Treatment will vary from patient to patient, but compression therapy along with local wound care and dressings are often recommended.
- Problematic surgical wounds — Healing from surgery does not always go as planned and may need diligent care or intervention to move the process in the right direction. Any surgical wound that is not healing in an orderly set of stages or a predictable amount of time should receive specialized treatment.
When to Seek out a Wound Specialist
If your wound has not shown progression of at least 50-percent healing in one month, has not healed completely in three months, or is showing any signs of infection, it is highly recommended to seek out help from a wound specialist. Chronic wounds have a tendency to worsen if the treatment is mismanaged, which can lead to serious consequences including the risk of amputation.
It is possible that there are underlying problems that need to be addressed before wound healing can progress, and a professional will be able to provide a diagnosis and plan to get you on the right path.
Why Should Patients Treat Wounds at Home?
Wound healing can be a long process. Unless the patient requires other forms of treatment, ongoing wound care can generally be carried out at home, often with the help of a wound care specialist. Keeping the wound clean, changing the dressings, and avoiding activity that might delay the healing process are all essential aspects of wound care at home.
Home wound care can be difficult depending on the wound type and severity, as well as the mobility of the patient. Elderly wound care and chronic wound care is often best handled by a medical professional. Specialists deliver customized wound care in the comfort of the patient’s home to speed healing, prevent infection, and monitor the patient’s overall health throughout the process.
When choosing a wound care home specialist, it is important to select a provider, either nurse practitioner or MD with wound care experience. Proper care may involve more than simply changing dressings – it may also involve collaborating with the patient’s physician and other therapists, managing different therapies and medications, and continuous reassessment of the wound.
The details of proper wound care at home vary according to the type of wound and its severity. To ensure that your recovery goes smoothly, you will need certain supplies.
While the nature of each wound may vary, a medical professional can provide an appropriate treatment plan for each unique situation. At Keystone Wound Care, our highly skilled nurse practitioners are trained in all aspects of patient care, including wound care.
We use an interdisciplinary model of care, including infectious-disease management, physical therapy, occupational therapy, skilled nursing, laboratory evaluation, nutritional management, pain management, diabetes education, and other areas to address total patient health. Our unique approach to patient care promotes faster recovery, less pain, and few long-term debilitating conditions.