Sometimes, time does NOT heal all wounds - and you need to know what to do if a wound won’t heal. If you have a wound that’s been giving you grief for weeks on end, it’s time to try some wound healing solutions to assist your body’s natural healing process.
In this article, we’ll not only teach you what to do if a wound won’t heal, we’ll also go over some slow wound healing causes, so you can understand what’s going on in your body.
Whether it’s a nutritional deficiency, an underlying condition, or just plain-old stress, there are many slow wound healing causes. It’s important to know how to answer the question “why won’t my wound heal?” so you know what to do when a wound won’t heal.
Before we get into what to do if a wound won’t heal, let’s take a look at what the natural healing process should look like. That way you can see what stage in the healing process your body is getting hung-up on, and learn how to treat a wound that won’t heal at that stage.
What is the normal wound healing process?
The healing process consists of four stages: hemostasis, inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling.
In hemostasis, your body focuses on stopping the bleeding.
Then, the inflammation stage helps clean out any bacteria or debris so your body can begin making new tissue.
The proliferation and remodeling phases are all about tissue generation. In the proliferation stage, your body rapidly creates collagen fibrils to fill in the wound site, and in the remodeling stage, your body smooths out the new tissue to make it stronger and reduce scarring.
Some signs of healing a wound include: blood stopping, scabbing, redness and swelling for 2-5 days, wound shrinking, and scar lightening.
How long should the wound healing process take?
Normal wound healing shouldn’t take longer than a month. If you have a wound that takes longer than four weeks to heal, it is considered a chronic wound.
You should expect inflammation and wound drainage to stop 2-5 days into your healing time. If you experience swelling and infection after that time period, or if swelling resurfaces later in the healing process, that’s a sign that something is amiss.
So, if you find yourself thinking: “Why is my operation wound not healing?” you may want to look into underlying health issues that could be contributing to slow wound healing.
What are some slow wound healing causes?
If you’re looking for things to do if a wound won’t heal, there is a good chance your wound is stuck in the inflammation stage.
There are many reasons that could be the case. Some slow wound healing causes include:
- Poor nutrition
- Improper wound care
- Circulatory issues
- Certain medications
It’s important to speak with a health professional about underlying causes for your slow wound healing. If you are dealing with a health issue like diabetes wound healing, a doctor or licensed nutritionist will be best equipped to walk you through what to do if a wound won’t heal.
What to do if a wound won’t heal: 13 things to try
If your wound is not healing, then there’s no time to waste! We want to help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible, so it’s time for you to learn what to do if a wound won’t heal.
Here are 13 of our top tips for speedy wound healing.
1. Talk to your doctor
If you’re wondering what to do if a wound won’t heal, the first thing you should do is to call your doctor. Your doctor has a better understanding of your individual medical needs, and can help you with your specific type of wound.
Better yet, make an appointment with your doctor in person so they can see what is going wrong with your wound. It will be much easier for your doctor to treat your wounds that way than by simply contacting them by phone or email to ask, “why won’t my wound heal?”
How to treat a wound that won’t heal is different from case to case, and your doctor will be able to advise you best on what to do if a wound won't heal.
If you have an undiagnosed medical condition that is contributing to your slow wound healing, they can also help you figure that out.
2. Make sure the wound is clean
If you’ve already talked with your doctor, or need some help holding out while you wait for your appointment, you may need to know what to do at home if a wound won’t heal.
First of all, it’s important to keep your wound clean in order to prevent infection from setting in. If you are going to touch your wound, always wash your hands well with soap and water first. You should also try to keep a bandage on open wounds to protect them from bacteria and debris.
You might be wondering: “Can you put alcohol on wounds?”
Most doctors actually recommend that you stay away from rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide when cleaning wounds. That’s because alcohol is too harsh for open skin, and can actually kill off your new skin cells that are trying to form.
Instead, you can clean the wound with warm tap water, and apply a mild antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin if needed.
You can double-check with your doctor about what healing ointments are safe for your particular type of wound.
3. Keep your wound moist
Generally speaking, it’s best to keep your wounds covered, because moist wounds heal up to 50% faster than dry ones.
If simply covering your wound is not enough, you can ask your doctor about some hydrating wound dressings like collagen dressings or hydrogel dressings to keep your wound moist.
4. Change your wound dressings frequently
If you are already using wound dressings, that’s fabulous!
But simply keeping your wound covered and leaving it be is also not the way to go.
Knowing what to do if a wound won’t heal could be as simple as knowing when to change your wound dressings. This could be daily, or as directed by your doctor.
This will ensure that the wound is kept clean and is getting all the nutrients and moisture it needs as well.
Some wound dressings work better at different stages in the healing process, or for different types of wounds, so discuss with your doctor if the type of wound dressing you are using is the most beneficial for your wound healing.
5. Take a load off
If you want to know what to do if a wound won’t heal on your foot, the answer might be a special orthotic shoe or insert. That’s because repeated pressure and rubbing on foot wounds, and foot ulcers in particular, can prolong the healing process by reopening the wound.
Ask your doctor if you can get custom padding or cut-outs for your shoes. There might be a particular type of footwear they would recommend to help speed your wound healing process.
6. Stay (lightly) active
Just because you want to keep pressure off your wound, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move around. In fact, one of the things to do if a wound won’t heal is to keep your body moving.
As long as you aren’t aggravating your wound, regular, gentle exercise can help boost your immune function and improve your circulation, which may help assist in wound healing.
7. Quit smoking
If you are a smoker who is wondering what to do if a wound won’t heal, the answer might be to give up smoking! Smoking has been directly linked to slow wound healing, and it could be the culprit.
Talk with your doctor to see if smoking is one of your slow wound healing causes.
8. Try hyperbaric oxygen therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) may be one of the best things to do if a wound won’t heal. HBOT is a proven treatment specifically for diabetic wounds and other chronic wounds. This treatment uses pressurized oxygen to stimulate your body’s own healing process.
HBOT can kickstart tissue repair, even in wounds that have previously failed to heal. Ask your doctor if HBOT might be a good option for you.
9. Check your blood sugar levels
If you’re struggling with how to treat a wound that won’t heal, it’s possible that you have diabetes. You can develop type 2 diabetes at any point in your life, so it’s worth consulting a doctor and assessing your blood sugar levels.
If you have high blood glucose, it could be the reason for your chronic wounds. Then, what to do if a wound won’t heal might look different. For example, you might need insulin injections, or a special diet or exercise plan to get your blood sugar under control.
It’s important to speak with a doctor before self-diagnosing or significantly altering your diet if you think you might have type 1 or 2 diabetes.
10. Ask about medical nutrition therapy
Diet isn’t just important for people with diabetes - it’s important for all of us!
Your nutritional intake plays a huge role in wound healing, and if you’re wondering “what can I eat to make my wound heal faster?” it’s worth looking into medical nutrition therapy, including liquid collagen supplements, such as ProT Gold.
Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) is a customized nutrition plan laid out by a licensed nutritionist or other health professional to assist you in reaching optimal health. MNT is commonly used to assist in swifter wound healing.
11. Get plenty of healthy vitamins
Not quite ready for full medical nutrition therapy? If you still want to know what to do if a wound won’t heal, there are a few dietary changes you can make from home that could help.
A good place to start is ensuring you have a well-balanced diet with foods that are chock-full of vitamins - in particular, vitamins A and C.
Some foods that are high in vitamin A include:
- Oily fish
- Fortified milk and yogurt
- Sweet potatoes
- Red peppers
And foods to boost your vitamin C levels include:
- Citrus fruit
- Black currants
- Brussel sprouts
12. Eat more protein
Vitamins A and C are great for boosting your body’s natural collagen protein synthesis, but nothing truly beats protein itself. Protein is essential for new tissue creation.
Some good sources of protein include:
- meat and fish
- dairy products
- seeds and nuts
- beans and lentils
If you want to know what to do if a wound won’t heal, ensure you’re getting ample protein in your diet. This is one of the easiest, most natural ways to promote a healthy body!
13. Take a high-quality collagen supplement
If you aren’t getting enough protein through your diet (or if you simply want a faster, easier way to supplement your protein needs), you might like liquid protein for healing, such as a collagen supplement.
Since your body uses collagen fibrils to create new tissue during wound healing, taking a collagen supplement may be one of the best things to do if a wound won’t heal.
In fact, many doctors use collagen for wound healing - both as wound dressings and as supplements.
Medical-grade collagen, such as the collagen products from ProT Gold, is trusted for the use in medical nutrition by nearly 4,000 medical facilities across the United States.
If you’re looking for what to do if a wound won’t heal, taking a daily collagen supplement may be one of the simplest solutions. Ask your doctor today if a medical-grade collagen supplement from ProT Gold could assist you in swifter wound healing!