Open Wounds

Everyone is likely to experience an injury leading to an open skin wound at some point in their lives. Luckily, most wounds, cuts and scrapes for instance, are minor and can usually be treated at home. Likewise, all wounds result in some level of scarring, but the appearance of scars is impacted by the healing phase and how you care for your wounds.1a

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SIGNS AND PHASES OF WOUND HEALING

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When an injury occurs, your body naturally goes into overlapping healing phases known as Hemostasis, Inflammation, Proliferation, and Maturation. Simply put:
Phase 1: HEMOSTASIS is the process of the wound closing by blood clotting, occurring at the point of injury as your body acts to stop the bleeding.2a
Phase 2: INFLAMMATION, which is often marked by swelling, redness and heat at the wound site, continues to control the bleeding and prevent infection right after injury.2b
Phase 3: PROLIFERATION involves the formation of new tissue, usually pink or red in colour, as the new skin starts to build.2c
Phase 4: MATURATION is when new skin becomes stronger – often marked by stretching or puckering around the wound, when the new tissue takes hold and the wound becomes fully closed.2d

 

Acute versus chronic wounds

 

How your wound heals largely depends on whether it is acute or chronic. It is widely accepted that any wound that goes through the phases of healing within 4 weeks is an acute wound3. A wound that fails to heal within 4 weeks is chronic.
However, there are major differences between the two that can only be distinguished by taking a closer look at the wound at a cellular level.4 How your wound heals depends on wound type, severity and wound care treatment.

FACTORS THAT MAY DELAY CHRONIC WOUND HEALING:

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  • Age – if you are over 60
  • Wound characteristics such as size and shape
  • Infection – when pathogens such as bacteria enter the wound site
  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes or diseases that affect the circulatory system
  • Poor nutrition particularly in a chronically ill or elderly patient
  • Dehydration – a lack of moisture at the wound’s surface
  • Poor blood circulation – blood is critical for transporting nutrients to tissue for wound healing
  • Excessive edema (fluid retention causing body tissues to swell), which results in poorer blood circulation to the injured area
  • Reinjured wounds can delay and can even stop wound healing
  • Lifestyle choices such as smoking and too much alcohol5

 

WHEN TREATING MINOR WOUNDS:

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  • Then, to prevent infection, remove all dirt and debris by rinsing the wound gently with cool, clean water7
  • If the wound is bleeding, take a clean absorbent material such as a washcloth, towel or bandage and apply pressure until the bleeding stops6b
  • Apply petroleum jelly or wound spray for faster healing8a
  • Depending on the nature of the wound, cover it with a sterile bandage to help prevent the wound from reopening, and keep it covered until it heals6c
  • Change the bandage once day or if it becomes wet or dirty8b
  • First wash your hands with soap and water6a

 

 

When to seek medical care

 

Even though most wounds are minor and treatable at home, you should seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your wound bleeds excessively
  • Does not stop bleeding after immediate pressure
  • Becomes infected
  • Is deeper than half an inch
  • You have a fever
  • A lump in your armpit or groin9c

 

 

The most common complication is risk of infection so take care to monitor your wound for signs of increased drainage, warmth or swelling, pus or a foul odour.9b Whether your wound is minor or more serious it is important to take quick action.9c

 

 

Promote faster wound healing

 

Leads to faster than expected new tissue formation, even in deep wounds where bone is exposed.10

 

 

Protect wounds while they heal
Helps to keep wounds free from infection and lowers the chance that a dressing will stick to a wound.11-14

 

 

Reduce pain and simplify dressing changes
Associated with reduced pain, including pain due to burns efficient dressing changes and less need for wound cleansing.10-14

 

 

 

Please note: This is educational information only and should not be used for diagnosis. For more information on open wounds, consult your healthcare professional.



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