What's the Difference Between Acute and Chronic Wounds?
"An acute wound is something that happens suddenly — a surgical incision, a burn or some other kind of trauma that results in an open wound," he explained. Under healthy circumstances, wounds are typically acute and progress normally through the healing stages.
Chronic wounds, such as diabetic foot ulcers or pressure injuries, affect more than 6 million people in the U.S. and the healing process can be more complicated. "Chronic wounds fail to progress through the normal stages of healing and are often a sign of an underlying health or nutritional issue," Nelson said.
What Are the Signs of Impaired Wound Healing?
Even when you prioritize proper nutrition, you may find that your wound still recovers slowly. That's largely because no two bodies heal the same way or at the same speed. However, a sluggish healing process may indicate an underlying health issue. As such, you'll want to look out for these common signs of impaired wound healing:
- No noticeable healing within four weeks: Acute wounds display visible signs of healing, such as scabbing, skin overgrowth and wound shrinking, during this time frame.
- An increase in pain: Wound discomfort should steadily decrease, not increase, during the healing stages.
- Persistent inflammation, redness or swelling: Some redness along skin edges is normal, signaling that the immune system's hard at work. Inflammation that spreads to the surrounding tissues, however, indicates a wound is reopening.
- Discharge and odors: Fresh wounds and incisions often have a slight odor, but this funkiness should subside through the healing process. A lingering foul odor, especially one that accompanies a yellow or green discharge, suggests possible infection.
"If you or a caretaker notice any of these signs, or otherwise suspect a wound is not healing as you might expect bring it to your healthcare professional's attention," he urged.