Caring for Wounds That Won't Heal
By Christopher LaRosa, DPM, podiatrist and medical director, Virtua Wound Center - Voorhees.
Your body is an amazing self-repairing machine. When you get a wound—a cut, scrape, puncture, or burn—it goes through a fine-tuned series of steps to mend the damage.
Most wounds heal within a few weeks. But complications sometimes arise, especially if you have a pre-existing condition such as diabetes, poor circulation, decreased immunity, or a lack of sensation in your feet.
Wounds that have difficulty healing are called chronic wounds. If left untreated, chronic wounds can lead to serious medical conditions, such as osteomyelitis and gangrene, and possibly amputation.
Risks for Chronic Wounds
One of the most common types of chronic wound is a pressure ulcer. They happen when you stay in one position for a long time, such as if you’re in a wheelchair or recovering from surgery. People with diabetes often get ulcers on their legs and feet that are slow to heal because their nerves or blood vessels are damaged.
Regular cuts and scrapes can become chronic too. Risk factors for chronic wounds include:
- Diabetes, especially if it’s not in control
- Circulation problems, such as chronic venous insufficiency or peripheral artery disease (PAD)
- Kidney disease
- Take certain medicines, including corticosteroids
- Having poor nutrition
Know the Signs
Most wounds are red and bleed at first. But call your doctor if your wound has not started to heal in two weeks or hasn’t totally healed in six weeks, or if you notice:
- The redness increasing, or spreading more than half an inch from the wound
- Severe pain
- A thick, gray, creamy fluid
- Numbness surrounding the wound
- A foul odor
- Fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
Treating Your Wound
At Virtua's three wound healing centers, our dedicated teams work with you to develop a plan tailored to your specific needs. Treatments include:
- Specialized dressings
- Wound debridement (removal of damaged tissue)
- Contact casts and other pressure relief
- Compression therapy
- Bio-engineered skin graft materials, such as Apligraft
- Negative pressure treatment with wound-vacuum therapy
Virtua also offers hyperbaric oxygen therapy – an advanced therapy that delivers high concentrations of wound-healing oxygen as you rest in a pressurized chamber.
Take Action to Treat Your Wound
If you have a wound that just won’t heal, call for an appointment at one of our three convenient centers. Our specialists will treat your wound and work with you to address the medical condition that may have caused it.
- To make an appointment at Virtua Wound Center - Memorial, call 609-914-6240.
- To make an appointment at Virtua Wound Center – Voorhees, call 856-247-7260.
- To make an appointment at Virtua Wound Center – Willingboro, call 609-835-5240.
Updated April 13, 2021