A wound care specialist might be the last person you think you need! After all, very few people have never had a scratch, cut, or scrape. Wounds are a normal part of living life. That’s why we have skin, right?
But what happens if you have a wound that isn’t healing? Or have a medical condition that slows down your body’s ability to heal? That can be scary. And it can also be dangerous.
So let’s take a look at how the body heals wounds, what you can do to support your healing process, and what to do if things aren’t going as planned. Because that’s where a wound care specialist comes in.
How a Wound Heals and How You Can Help
Your body is already set up to heal itself. If something breaks your skin, the first thing that happens is that your blood starts to clot: hemostasis sets in. Hemostasis is the spontaneous process that causes bleeding to stop.
However, if you have a significant injury or have lacerated vessels, then your body may need some help to reduce the bleeding. Pressure, elevation, tourniquet, and suturing are all methods that can help you stop bleeding.
To reduce the risk of infection and promote healing
- Clean the wound. Although you should disinfect the skin around the wound with antiseptic, you should avoid getting it inside the wound.
- Manually remove any foreign objects from the wound.
- Apply antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection.
- Cover the wound with a bandage to protect it.
If your wound is bad enough that it needs to be closed with stitches or staples, then your provider will apply a local anesthetic to keep the pain at bay. Sutures or staples should be removed 10-14 days after initial wound closure.
Sometimes Wounds Get Worse, or the Healing Process Stalls
Signs that you should see a doctor or a wound care specialist for wound care are if
- the skin around the wound is red or swollen
- pain increases
- it smells bad
- the wound is hot or you have a fever
A primary healthcare provider can usually treat simple wounds. But serious wounds may require time in hospital, followed by recovery at home.
Sometimes it can take a wound a long time to heal. Some wounds can become chronic and seem like they will never heal. This is a sign that you should seek out a wound care specialist.
Complex wounds like vascular ulcers, diabetic ulcers, radiation wounds, various types of traumatic injury, and some post-operative wounds should also be taken to a wound care specialist to help you speed up healing.
What Makes it Harder to Heal?
Your overall health and lifestyle choices can stall healing.
Health conditions that can make it harder to heal include:
- Congestive heart failure
- Vascular disease
- Severe obesity
- Renal failure
- Nerve damage
Lifestyle issues that can prevent wound healing include:
- Poor nutrition
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Being inactive
Should You Approach a Wound Care Specialist?
To help decide this, you may need to know the difference between an acute wound and a chronic wound.
An acute wound progresses through the phases of normal healing. Eventually, it closes. A chronic wound fails to heal or fails to respond to treatment over the expected time frame.
If you have a wound that has not started to heal after two weeks, or has not healed completely in six weeks, MedLinePlus recommends a visit to a wound care specialist.
Why You Might Consult a Wound Care Specialist
Are you interested in speeding up your recovery and positively impacting your quality of life? Working with a wound care specialist can do both. Here are four good reasons to consult one.
1 Wound care specialists know wounds – inside out, so to speak!
A regular clinician has a basic knowledge of how to care for wounds. A wound care specialist uses their extensive knowledge and experience in treating wounds to develop an individualized treatment plan based on your specific wound, health issues, medical history, and personal preferences.
Wound care specialists are particularly familiar with:
- All kinds of ulcers
- Radiation injuries
- Diabetic complications
- Surgical wounds
2 Specialized wound care reduces the risk of serious complications
The wrong approach to treating a wound can be catastrophic. For example, infected or chronic foot ulcers are the most common cause of diabetes-related amputations. In general, long-term, non-healing wounds can allow infections like MRSA to enter the bloodstream via the wound and result in serious illnesses or even death.
3 Wound care specialists are up to date
Wound care specialists have access to the latest wound care treatments and technologies. Treatments that may be helpful in managing non-healing or complex wounds include:
- Wound Vac Therapy
- Growth Factor Therapy
- Bioengineered skin
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT)
- Incision and drainage
- Negative pressure-assisted wound closure
- Post-surgical incision management
- Skin grafting
- Unna Boot
- Total contact casting
4 Wound care specialists educate
One of the most important roles of a wound specialist is to educate both you and your family about how to care for the wound and manage the healing process. Chronic or severe wounds heal slowly, and they can be pretty gruesome. A wound care specialist can support you in
- the emotional aspects of recovery
- making the best lifestyle choices to promote healing
- understanding your wound
- guiding you in how to care for it as it heals
- transitioning safely and quickly to home care.
Choosing the Right Wound Care Specialist
Your body is your primary tool in life. Therefore, caring for it is crucial. Don’t gamble with your healing process by randomly choosing a doctor who may not have the knowledge, training, or resources to heal your wound.
Each wound care specialist offers their own benefits, experiences, and talents. If you need treatment, you will want to work with someone who
- is flexible with your schedule
- practices wound healing as their primary specialty
- combines internal and external treatments
- works in a facility that has high standards, is convenient, and has state-of-the-art equipment.
Let Us Help You Live Well!
Our motto at OneLife Medical Center is, “You only live once…live well!” If you need treatment for a fresh acute wound, a wound that isn’t progressing, or a chronic wound that won’t heal, we are here for you! We will listen to you and work with you to come up with an individual treatment plan to get you on the road to recovery. Contact us for a consultation today!