Whether you have a cut that keeps festering, or a surgical wound that just won’t heal, you likely want to know how to heal a wound that won’t close.
And it’s a good thing that you’re here! It’s important to help the healing process along and learn how to heal a wound that won’t close. If you don’t, you run the risk of severe consequences.
If your body continues to have difficulty with healing, it can result in gangrene, amputation, or even death.
But don’t worry! You’re here, actively learning how to treat wounds that won’t heal – so you’re on the right track to recovery.
Today we will discuss proven methods for how to heal a wound that won’t close, as well as some underlying issues that could be causing your slow wound healing in the first place.
But before we talk about how to treat wounds that won’t heal, let’s make sure you understand what the normal wound healing process looks like, so you can see if you actually have an issue with your wound not healing.
Signs your wound isn’t healing properly
When you’re dealing with a painful wound, it can seem like recovery takes forever. You may be absolutely sure your surgical wound won’t close on its own.
But wounds don’t heal overnight. How long does a wound take to heal?
Well, in general, wounds take four to six weeks to close. Your body will continue to strengthen the area and replace the scar tissue long after that, but you shouldn’t have an open or infected wound by that time.
In fact, you should start to notice your wound healing after about two weeks. If you are still in the inflammatory stage of a healing wound after a week or so, there may be something wrong. You should not be experiencing pus, heat, inflammation, or redness long after the first week of wound healing.
If your puncture injury or surgical wound won’t close, and you are experiencing infection, you should make an appointment with a doctor, and in particular a wound care specialist.
It’s important to note that if your wound remains unhealed for a couple of months, your body starts to turn the normal healing process off – and then you will be stuck with a chronic wound and will need extra help to learn how to heal a wound that won’t close.
In order to get help in a timely manner, it’s important to visit a healthcare professional and determine if there are any underlying issues that could be causing your slow wound healing.
Why isn’t my wound healing?
There are many slow healing wounds causes, and not all of them may be obvious to you. It’s important to get a proper diagnosis from your doctor to learn how to heal a wound that won’t close properly.
That being said, here are some of the most common reasons why a cut, ulcer, or surgical wound won’t close:
Does diabetes slow wound healing? If left uncontrolled, absolutely. Some people who wonder how to heal a wound that won’t close have undiagnosed (or improperly managed) diabetes.
When you have high blood sugar, it damages your body’s natural healing process. Your body won’t be able to deliver oxygen and healing nutrients to your wound in a timely manner, and the function of your white blood cells will be impaired, which will make it difficult to fight off infection.
As such, people with uncontrolled diabetes often find themselves stuck in the inflammatory stage of healing and wondering how to heal a wound that won’t close.
Diabetes and some other conditions can trigger a type of nerve damage called neuropathy, which causes tingling and numbness in your hands and feet. Because you can always feel your extremities, you could have an injury for days without realizing it. This allows infection to set in.
Diabetes can also cause poor circulation, which makes it even harder for wounds to heal properly. When your blood isn’t circulating correctly, it is difficult for your body to deliver the proper healing nutrients to your wound site.
When any health condition slows your circulation, your wound becomes deficient in nutrients and more vulnerable to infection. You may be wondering how to heal a wound that won’t close because poor circulation causes wounds to take at least twice as long as normal to heal.
If you have poor eating habits or are suffering from malnutrition, it may affect your body’s ability to heal. Healing requires a lot of calories and nutrients, and if you aren’t getting enough protein, your body won’t have the building blocks it needs to heal your wound.
When healing a wound, you should try to double your protein intake to supply your body with the right nutrients. This could include more meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, seeds, nuts, or collagen supplements.
Too much pressure
There is a reason crutches and wheelchairs are used during the healing process – too much pressure is not only painful, it’s bad for healing wounds. If you put too much pressure (such as your body weight) on your wound regularly, it can prevent healing or even make the wound worse.
This is the same principle behind hospital-acquired pressure injuries. It’s important that you offload your wound with padding, switching positions regularly, and using walking assistance as needed.
Not enough pressure
Just as too much pressure can be a problem, not applying any pressure in the early stages can cause complications with some wounds. Light compression can help to reduce swelling and fluid build-up. It can also support better circulation to the area, which provides more oxygen and nutrients for healing.
Ask your doctor if your chronic wound could benefit from compression, but don’t compress your wound without their permission, as it is not the answer for all wounds.
Improper wound care
Sometimes your wound won’t heal simply because you aren’t dressing or cleaning it properly. Every wound requires a unique type of dressing to help with fluid drainage, infection prevention, and tissue regrowth. If not dressed properly, the skin surrounding your wound can be damaged.
If your wound is deeply infected, it must be addressed with medication before your healing process can progress. If you think improper wound care is the cause of your wound not healing, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional to get your healing back on track.
So now let’s get to the important part of this article: How to heal a wound that won’t close.
How to heal a wound that won’t close
Learning how to treat wounds that won’t heal usually takes a lot more than some antibiotics. If there are underlying conditions affecting your body’s ability to heal, they need to be addressed in order to learn how to heal a wound that won’t close.
Of course, stopping the infection is also important, which is why it’s first on our list of how to heal a wound that won’t close.
Control the infection
Chronic wounds are particularly susceptible to infection. It’s important to keep your wound site clean and stay out of swimming pools or other areas that could be sources of infection. Ask your doctor about the proper wound-dressing protocol and if you should be on antibiotics or not.
Address your blood sugar
If diabetes is causing your slow healing wound, it’s important to get your blood sugar under control to learn how to heal a wound that won’t close.
Work with your doctor to manage your blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and medication as needed. Once your blood sugar levels are normal, your body will be able to get back to its regular healing process and immune function.
Use hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT)
A promising option for how to heal a wound that won’t close is hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). HBOT is a safe and proven therapy that can stimulate your body’s natural healing process through pressurized oxygen.
During an HBOT treatment, you will lie down in a hyperbaric chamber containing concentrated oxygen. All you need to do is relax and breathe. The concentrated oxygen will get into the areas where your circulation is reduced or blocked.
Regular, repeated treatments with HBOT can make your healing process more effective, improve organ function, and enable your body to build new connective tissue from collagen protein at a faster rate.
If you’re struggling with how to heal a wound that won’t close, you may need to try debridement. Debridement is a common procedure that involves the removal of dead or unhealthy tissue from your wound site.
Removal of this tissue will promote the growth of healthy tissues, reduce infection, and ultimately speed up the healing process in many cases.
Depending on your medical history, and the type of wound you have, your doctor may recommend one of three types of debridement:
Sharp debridement: This is the most common type of debridement. A wound care specialist will remove unhealthy tissue using a sterilized surgical instrument.
Autolytic debridement: This type of debridement uses a specialized dressing that helps to break down unhealthy tissues.
- Enzymatic debridement: Also known as chemical debridement, this type of debridement uses a special medication to break down the unhealthy tissue. It may be used in conjunction with sharp debridement.
Use skin grafts
If you’ve tried other methods, and are still dealing with how to heal a wound that won’t close, your doctor may recommend a skin graft. During this procedure, a surgeon will take healthy skin from another area of your body and transplant it onto your chronic wound.
Skin grafts can help your body to regenerate tissue and heal stubborn wounds.
Start nutritional management
As we mentioned above, nutrition plays a strong role in the wound healing process. If you are malnourished, or don’t have the right combination (or amount) of nutrients for your body to heal, you may be stuck with a chronic wound.
Luckily you can use nutrition for wound healing under the guidance of a nutritionist or other health care professional. Your nutritionist can help you determine how to heal wounds faster through a wound healing diet, which generally cuts out sugar and other inflammatory foods, and adds in more protein.
One thing they might recommend is collagen. Doctors regularly use collagen in wound healing because it is so integral in your natural wound healing process. Your body uses collagen protein to make new tissue, so it’s necessary for proper wound healing.
Taking a daily collagen supplement is one of the easiest ways to learn how to heal a wound that won’t close. Just make sure that your supplement comes from a trusted company, doesn’t contain any additives, and is hydrolyzed for easy absorption.
We recommend looking for a medical grade collagen that is FDA-regulated and trusted by doctors.
With proper diagnosis, and a combination of treatment methods on this list, you and your doctor should be able to find a way to heal your stubborn wounds once and for all.