Your skin is the largest organ in your body and the first line of defense against disease-causing germs, bacteria, and viruses. When a cut, scrape, burn, or bite breaks your skin’s protective barrier, harmful germs can enter and cause an unwanted wound infection.
If you find your sore or wound not healing as usual, it is time to seek medical care. Untreated chronic, or non-healing, wounds can lead to diminished quality of life and possible amputation of the affected limb.
June is Wound Care Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness and encourage those with chronic wounds to seek help.
According to Tara Triplett, clinical coordinator for Iredell Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center, 7 million Americans are living with a chronic wound, and 1 in 4 families have a family member with a chronic wound.
As summer approaches and people are spending more time outdoors in the warm weather, special attention to wounds becomes even more critical.
“Summer brings its own special challenges and risks. Acute wounds, such as sunburns, grilling and firework injuries, bug bites and stings, poison ivy, splinters, scratches, cuts, and scrapes, can put vulnerable people at risk for hard to heal wounds,” said Megan Purser, nurse practitioner at Iredell Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center, part of the Healogics network.
According to Healogics, the nation’s leading provider of advanced wound care, the number of chronic wounds in America is growing due to diabetes, increased age, and obesity, among other factors.
Factors that can put you at a higher risk for developing a non-healing wound include:
- Unmanaged diabetes
- Poor nutritional intake
- Unrelieved pressure on a body part
- Lower leg swelling that has not been treated with compression
- Unmanaged high blood pressure
- Untreated infections in new wounds
Luckily, there are things you can do to lower your chances and prevent chronic wounds and infections.
First and foremost, it’s crucial to follow the advice of your primary care providers and specialists. If they have recommended compression socks or stockings, make sure you wear them in order to manage your swelling and prevent wounds from occurring. According to Purser, diabetic patients with neuropathy should never go barefoot or wear just socks.
“Patients prone to swelling should wear appropriate compression stockings and prop feet and legs up frequently when it is warm outside. If your legs are feeling achy, tight, or heavy, it may be a warning sign that they are beginning to swell,” said Purser.
In the summer months, bug bites, sunburns, and cuts are more common. When enjoying the outdoors, make sure to wear sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, bug spray, and shoes.
While most minor cuts heal without medical attention, puncture wounds made by nails, teeth, or knives are at high risk for infection. According to Healogics, puncture wounds are more susceptible to tetanus because of infectious bacteria found in soil, dust, manure, and saliva. If you have not had a tetanus vaccine in 10 years, you should seek immediate care.
Iredell Wound Care & Hyperbaric Center
If you are concerned about a wound or have noticed your wound is not healing as usual, seeking medical care is essential.
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of wounds in our community that are left untreated or undertreated. It is important for members of our community and healthcare providers to be aware that advanced wound treatment is available,” said Purser.
Iredell Wound Care, designated as a Center of Distinction by Healogics, provides specialized state-of-the-art treatment for chronic or non-healing wounds. A patient’s individualized treatment plan may include specialized wound dressings, debridement, compression therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, advanced cellular products and topical growth factors, edema management, or non-invasive vascular assessments.
“Smaller, uninfected wounds do not limit a patient's ability to be referred for wound care. We are here as a resource and are happy to answer questions or provide guidance on wounds that providers and patients may have concerns about,” she added.
If you would like to schedule an appointment at Iredell Wound Care, please call 704-768-0542. To learn more, visit iredellwoundcare.com.
“Some wounds won’t heal on their own without treatment. Specialized wound treatment can heal a wound in less time, giving life and enjoyment back to the patient and their families. It is my goal to treat and heal as many of the wounds in our community as possible,” said Purser.