As one of the most frequent medical problems that people face, wounds are easily amongst the more common outcomes of various incidents. After all, it is hard to find a person that has never had a cut, abrasion, or some other type of injury that required attention. The U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health attests to this by reporting that as many as 6.5 million Americans suffer from chronic wounds. Even for such a large nation, that number is quite concerning.
Chronic Versus Acute Wounds
The first step towards effectively treating any type of wound is to distinguish between the acute and chronic ones. Remember that there are millions of people who do not fall into that 6.5-million group mentioned above because they do not have “long-term” injuries. Thus, a chronic wound is one that has not healed within at least three months.
This timeline can be adjusted to reflect the severity of someone’s situation. For instance, a person that has a large and deep cut would probably need to add more time to their healing process to reflect for the degree of damage that the body must repair. Conversely, if the wound is tiny, there is no point in waiting for three months to label it chronic, as it will be healed rapidly. So, the three months just serve as an orientation point.
Most Common Types of Wounds
Although the definition of a wound accounts for a wide range of skin and tissue injuries, the most common examples are:
Making an Acute Wound Assessment
Once you develop an acute wound that requires treatment, you should immediately assess the situation. Doing so is crucial as it can help you figure out if professional help is required. Regardless of your level of skills, treating a laceration, abrasion, or even an incision can sometimes simply be too complex for at-home remedies. Any injury over a joint or with exposed muscle, bone should be seen immediately by a healthcare professional.
Start by measuring the wound. If it is a straight cut, you can just measure it from one end to another. If it has a more challenging shape, try to measure the area by approaching it as a geometric shape that it resembles the most. For example, if you have an oval-shaped laceration, you will measure the vertical and horizontal radius, which you must multiply. After you have the measurements, analyze the location of the injury. If it is somewhere where you will have a lot of difficulty maneuvering around, which may include your back area, per se, you should seek professional help.
Finally, look at the surrounding skin and constantly evaluate whether there seems to be any discoloration, redness, significant swelling or increase pain which can be signs of infection. Doing so will help you prevent the infections that broken skin is susceptible to. If you determine that all of the aforementioned measurements and evaluations are not severe enough to land you in a hospital, start the treatment by cleaning the wound and applying bandages. Consequently, depending on the size of the wound, rely on a similar therapy for a few days or weeks. In case your acute wound or injury does not heal, you might be at risk of developing a chronic wound.
Recognizing Signs of Worsening Condition
Dr. Matthew Finnegan reminds that the most obvious sign of the worsening condition is pain, skin irritation, and discoloration of the surrounding tissue. Each of these could be a sign of an infection that is slowly developing. You should also pay attention to the way that the wound is healing. If the bleeding continues and there is no yellowish or light layer on top of the wound bed, your white blood cells may not be doing their job properly.
Dressings for Chronic Wounds
When you recognize that you have a chronic wound, you will look for a therapy that revolves around a certain type of “dressing.” This is simply a pad that may or may not carry some medicine or healing agents that facilitate faster recovery. While they vastly depend on the specific nature of your condition, common dressings include hydrogels, hydrocolloids, alginates, foam, and gauze. Each of them is a healing agent that helps your wound by keeping it moist and perpetuating a proper level of fluid exchange within it.
As per Dr. Matthew Finnegan, one of the main reasons why healing could take a long time is the presence of bacteria. Since they deliver toxins that are incredibly dangerous when around or inside an open wound, these microorganisms could cause anything from Staphylococcus to Beta-hemolytic Streptococcus. Hence why proper cleaning of the tissue and daily wound care can prevent invasive infection. If you develop signs of infection, antibiotics are often used to help battle infections that could delay the recovery.Specialized Treatments Done by Professionals
If you get to a point where there seems to be no improvement, you must reach out to a professional and look into advanced therapies. These could include skin grafts or vacuum-assisted closures, which take place when your wound is too big to close on its own, as well as hyperbaric oxygen and electromagnetic approaches that improve circulation and warm the damaged tissue.
All of them, however, must be handled by an experienced healthcare provider who can assess your situation carefully and advise you on the best course of action. So, do not hesitate to ask for help as doing so could result in life-threatening repercussions.