The Glossary of Essential Wound Care Terms and Definitions

If you need wound care, it’s essential you know what treatment options are available. But in order to communicate clearly with your provider and wound care team about what potential procedures might be optimal, it’s helpful to know the most common terms used in the field of wound care.

To make it simple for you, our experts from the San Diego Wound Care Center have compiled this glossary of wound care terms and definitions, to give you everything you need to know before you begin treatment.

Acute wounds

An acute wound is a wound that heals in less than 12 weeks and doesn’t require any medical intervention.

Autologous skin graft

Chronic wounds are often closed through the use of skin grafts. An autologous skin graft is a skin graft that was taken from healthy tissue from another part of the patient’s body.


A biofilm is a film made up of a community of microorganisms stuck together in an extracellular matrix.

Chronic wound

A chronic wound is a wound that is not healing properly. Chronic wounds are often caused by complications such as infection, pressure, diabetes, poor circulation, or immune deficiencies.


Collagen is a type of protein that is part of the skin’s connective tissue. It gives structure and elasticity to our skin.


Bacteria colonize when they start to aggregate and form in the bed of the wound.

Dead space

A dead space is the gap in a wound that hasn’t properly closed.


Debridement is the removal of damaged tissue or foreign objects from a wound.


A dehiscence is a surgical complication that involves a wound rupturing along a surgical incision. This can be caused by trauma, poor stitching, obesity, diabetes, collagen disorders, and more.


The dermis is the layer of skin between the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, and the subcutaneous tissue, the innermost layer.


The outermost layer of the skin.


Exudate is the fluid that seeps out of a wound. Exudate is typically made up of serum, fibrin, and white blood cells, and is usually excreted due to inflammation.

Full thickness

Deep tissue damage that spans the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous tissue. Full thickness damage may include the fat, muscles, and even bones.

Growth factors

Growth factors are the protein responsible for cellular growth, proliferation, healing, and cellular differentiation.


When the wound is exposed to moisture for too long, the softened skin wrinkles and breaks down. Skin maceration often occurs from water and sweat exposure from a bandage.


The perimeter of tissue surrounding a wound.


Staging is the method of measuring and categorizing a pressure wound. Some wounds may become unstageable.

Surgical debridement

Surgical debridement is a treatment for chronic wounds. With surgical debridement, a scalpel or surgical instrument is used to clean up dead tissue, foreign debris, and residual material from dressings.

Subcutaneous tissue

Also known as the hypodermis, the subcutaneous tissue is the innermost layer of skin.


An ulcer is a chronic open lesion or sore.

Venous ulcer

A venous skin ulcer is caused by weak blood circulation. Specifically, the ulcer forms when the blood backs up or pools around the veins.

Possessing a basic understanding of the descriptive terms for wound care is a good start—but there’s so much more to learn about this complex field. That’s why the professionals at the San Diego Wound Care Center promote the education of their patients. Wound care is a partnership, and patients should be knowledgeable of how a potential procedure might affect them. If you’d like to know more about what wound care treatment options may be right for you, contact us for a consultation. At the San Diego Wound Care Center, we’re ready to answer any inquiries you may have, to get you the care you need.


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.