Every year, chronic wounds affect approximately 6.7 million people in the United States. Although there are numerous types of non-healing wounds, the following are the four most prevalent - each with different appearances, symptoms and causes: infectious wounds, vascular wounds, radiation related wounds and surgical wounds.
Your skin protects the inside of your body from germs that cannot be seen. These bacteria can cause infection if you have a break in the skin. You can also get an infection in your bone, a condition known as osteomyelitis. A wound or bone infection can be hard to treat. It may require admission to the hospital and it can even lead to an amputation or death. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of an infection. It is also important for you to do everything you can to prevent an infection. Be on the lookout for: warm or red skin, fever or chills, increased swelling around the wound, dead tissue, increased weakness and a wound that won’t heal. It’s also important that you do everything possible to avoid infections. This includes good hygiene and protective clothing where appropriate.
These types of wounds are a result of arterial or venous insufficiency.
Venous insufficiency occurs when valves within the veins begin to malfunction and result in blood pooling within the feet and legs. Venous hypertension, which is a result of chronic venous insufficiency, can lead to the painful, swollen (‘varicose’) veins that predispose tissue to injury and poor healing. Some of the signs of non-healing ulcers are: redness and swelling that won’t go away, pain and edema, skin with minimal to no hair, inflammation, hotness, blistering and general discoloration.
Arterial ulcers typically occur as a result of decreased oxygen supply to the legs and feet. This occurs as a result of poor circulation, and is commonly seen in such diseases as atherosclerosis diabetes, sickle cell disease and vasculitis. The lack of oxygenated blood can result in tissue damage and hypoxia which may lead to ulcer formation.
Radiation Related Wound
Half of the more than 11 million people diagnosed with cancer in the US receive radiation therapy as part of their treatment plan. After beating cancer, many patients who undergo radiation therapy discover a hidden complication that may not come to light until years after they’ve concluded treatment. Radiation exposure can injure small blood vessels in the skin and other organs. As a result, blood flow may be diminished to the area in question and non-healing wounds may arise. Some symptoms of radiation injury are: blood in the urine, redness or alterations in pigmentation of the skin.
Wounds caused by surgical incisions are not always chronic, however a surgical incision combined with a lack of blood supply to the area (whether from arterial insufficiency or a surgical complication) can progress to a chronic wound if left untreated. Additionally, if the surgical wound is infected it may appear red, hot and swollen.
If untreated, chronic wounds can lead to diminished quality of life and possible amputation of the affected limb. The expertise of our specially trained wound care physicians allows UnityPoint Health Wound Healing Center to treat a variety of chronic wounds.
Wound Care Awareness Week, June 3-7, is an opportunity for us to educate patients, caregivers and physicians about chronic wounds and advanced wound care treatment options. Join us in our mission to raise awareness of the chronic wound epidemic and the benefits of advanced wound care.
If you or a loved one is experiencing a chronic non-healing wound, we would love for you to find the relief you deserve.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact the UnityPoint Health Wound Healing Center at 55 Central Iowa Drive Marshalltown, IA 50158 or call (641) 754-8025.