LOS ALAMITOS, CA – November, 2010 – For most of us, a cut or scrape is no big deal. Given time and some basic care like cleansing and dressings, the wound will heal itself.
Between 5 million and 7 million chronic wounds are treated in the United States each year. Chronic wounds either take longer to heal than normal, don’t heal completely or recur frequently. People with diabetes or vascular problems are more prone to developing these non-healing wounds.
A number of factors play a role in creating chronic wounds. Poor nutrition, medications, or diseases such as diabetes or vascular problems may be contributing factors for the development of chronic wounds. Additionally, people who are confined to a bed or use a wheelchair for long periods of time may develop pressure sores that can become chronic wounds.
Because of the number of contributing factors affecting chronic wounds, specialized care is needed to treat the problem. Treatment may include removing dead skin on, around or in the wound (debridement), keeping a moist dressing on the wound and controlling infection. In some cases, special growth factors may be used to promote new, healthy skin cells.
Los Alamitos Medical Center’s health professionals know that the patient and the family are part of the team as they learn to care for the wound between visits. Patient education on wound prevention is part of the services offered.
Prevention Is Key
In the case of wound care, prevention is the best medicine. People with diabetes and vascular problems need to take precautions to prevent wounds from occurring, especially on their feet.
Here are some tips on good foot care:
Wash feet daily with mild soap and lukewarm water. Dry carefully and dust feet with talcum powder to wick away moisture.
Inspect feet and toes daily to check for cuts, bruises, sores or other changes.
Lose weight. Diabetes plus excess weight increases your risk of complications.
Wear thick, soft socks. Avoid mended socks or those with seams that can rub and cause blisters.
Stop smoking. Tobacco may contribute to circulatory problems.
Cut toenails straight across.
Exercise to improve your circulation.
Be properly measured and fitted every time you buy new shoes. New shoes should fit properly when you buy them.
Don’t go barefoot, even in your own home.
Don’t wear high heels, sandals or shoes with pointy toes.
Pressure ulcers (also called bed sores) may be prevented by ensuring that the skin is kept clean and moisturized. The patient’s position in bed or on a chair should be changed frequently, and caregivers should be careful to lift rather than slide the patient. Special mattresses or supports may be used to help prevent pressure ulcers from forming.
If you would like to learn more about wound care services, please talk to your physician at the Health Care Center. We have resources to help you heal your wounds and answer your diabetes questions.