The normal process of wound healing takes about 3 weeks, but there are some wounds that take months or even years to fully heal. The common factors such as infection, condition of the wound, edema and trauma can affect the healing process. Even the systemic factors play a role which includes the overall health of the individual, age and the nutritional status.
Contamination and development of infection
Once infection develops in a wound, it is one of the common reasons why there is a delay in the healing process. Once a wound ends up contaminated, the immune system will use up energy to fight off the bacteria, thus there is little energy left for the healing process. The bacteria even produce toxins that can disrupt the healing and trigger the death of the cells. Take note that bite wounds are more likely to be contaminated. Proper care must be taken when caring for wounds. If you want to learn how to care for wounds, click here.
Condition of the wounds
The overall condition of the wound will affect the healing process. If there is pressure or repeated trauma on the wound, it will delay the healing. Even dehydration can cause the cells to dry up and crust over while overhydration due to exposure to urine or feces can lead to the maceration of the cells. The necrotic or dead tissue should be removed or the wound will not heal.
Diminished circulation and oxygenation
Take note that blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to the affected area while at the same time removing toxins, bacteria and debris. There are certain conditions that can reduce the flow of blood and oxygenation that cause poor healing of the wound. Diabetes, advanced age, high blood pressure and peripheral vascular disease can affect the circulation and disrupt the healing process. Even chronic lung disease and anemia can disrupt oxygenation while obesity slows down the healing of the wound due to the presence of fatty tissue that has few blood vessels.
Elderly individuals tend to heal at a slower rate than young children and healthy adults. The risk for infection is high among the elderly due to the slow inflammatory response and diminished endocrine functioning and antibody production. Additionally, the elderly are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes that impairs the oxygenation and circulation.
There are certain medications that can disrupt the inflammatory response such as corticosteroids. Those who are under chemotherapy involves stopping the cells from multiplying, thus disrupting the healing process of wounds. Even radiation therapy depresses the function of the bone marrow, thus increasing the risk for infection. Additionally, extensive use of antibiotics can also increase the risk for secondary infection.
The body requires calories, proteins, zinc and vitamins C and A for proper wound healing along with a balanced diet. The diet of the individual must include at least 2-3 servings of proteins, a serving of foods rich in vitamin A and at least one serving of vitamin C rich foods. Do not forget that zinc that is present in cereals, seafood and red meat is also useful during the healing process.
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