Wounds follow certain patterns on the way to healing. Of the two main types of wounds, the chronic variety deviates from the normal process. The deviation occurs due to a disruption at one or more points of the healing phases.
A wound that doesn’t heal in a timely fashion causes emotional and physical stress on patients. Pain is a factor in many chronic wounds, but whether or not it is involved requires an appropriate dressing selection to ensure patient comfort.
Common Chronic Wounds
There are different types of wounds that are classified as chronic. Some of these can cause patients much pain while others don’t. The most common chronic wounds include the following:
- Diabetic foot ulcers – found on the foot, heels or toes of diabetic patients. This condition is accompanied by little to no feeling on the foot or in the ulcer. It can be managed with topical treatments or a dressing containing calcium alginates.
- Pressure ulcers (bedsores) – caused by sitting or lying in a single position for a long period, causing damage to the skin. Sores usually appear on the back of the head, the spine, elbows, heels, shoulder blades, knees, ankles, and tailbone. This causes discomfort for patients and can be treated with alginate or hydrocolloid dressings.
- Venous leg ulcer – develops after a minor injury, particularly if there is a problem with blood circulation in leg veins. This type of wound can be painful and is prone to bacterial infection.
These chronic wounds can be treated with bandages – film, foam, or gel – as well as a combination of dressings. Foot ulcers can also be managed with topical treatments with silver or silver sulphadiazine cream.
Managing Chronic Wounds
There is no one dressing that can manage different wounds. Each wound has its own characteristics and needs its own form of treatment. These are the commonly used dressings for chronic wounds:
- Alginate – a highly absorbent dressing that forms a gel when it comes into contact with the surface of the wound, helping it heal quickly. This is used on ulcers since it is made from seaweed and also contains sodium and calcium – all of which can quicken the healing process.
- Film – a transparent film put over a wound for ease of monitoring and blocks water and microorganisms from passing through. This can be used on those who suffer from ulcers to keep the wound clean and dry, as well as to prevent infection.
- Foam – creates a moist environment to allow a wound to heal. Like a transparent film, it prevents bacteria and other contaminants from getting to the wound. It is made of polyurethane and is designed to absorb wound exudates.
- Hydrocolloid – composed of a hydrocolloid matrix with a water-resistant outer layer. Like foam dressings, it creates a moist healing environment and is self-adherent, making it easy to apply.
- Hydrogel – made of around 96% water suspended in a gel base. It is designed to absorb exudates from the wound or rehydrate it.
While there are topical treatments and bandages available to treat different types of wounds of chronic nature, it’s advisable to see a specialist to better address the issue. With board-certified vascular and wound care surgeons, the San Diego Wound Care Center can provide the care needed at every step of the healing process.
We specialize in diagnosis and treatment for any and all wound care issues for patients in San Diego County, Orange County, and Riverside County. For more information or to set an appointment, please contact us.