CHRONIC WOUNDS: While the body is amazingly good at healing wounds, it always needs help.
CHRONIC WOUNDS: While the body is amazingly good at healing wounds, it always needs help. gpointstudio

Chronic wounds need more than time

TIME doesn't always heal wounds. In fact, says Dr Suzanne Kapp of the University of Melbourne, it can be your enemy.

"Many chronic wounds - that is, those that have been present for more than a month - heal more slowly when they do not receive timely assessment and care,” she reports.

Chronic wounds such as leg ulcers, pressure injuries (or bed sores) and foot wounds affect nearly half a million Australians.

"There is no doubt that many patients will experience quicker and less complicated healing, if expert advice, assessment and care is started early,” Dr Kapp reports.

This means, if you have a chronic wound, you need to seek help from your GP sooner rather than later.

"If the wound has been present over 30 days, you should seek professional advice,” Dr Kapp reports. "Other factors, like pain, heat and odour may suggest infection, however, we must be very careful that antibiotics are prescribed appropriately. That means expert assessment is needed.

"But there are some additional challenges when trying to manage and prevent some chronic wounds.

"For example, pressure injuries often occur among people who are extremely vulnerable, and who may not be able to report their concerns to healthcare providers.”

Dr Kapp's research team have found using multi-layer silicone foam dressings is effective for preventing pressure injuries on the tailbone and on the heel. The rider here is not all multi-layer silicone foam dressings are the same.

Simple interventions that nurses undertake every day can prevent pressure injuries.

"Importantly, we need to communicate the necessity of the early identification of skin damage to other people involved in care of the elderly - particularity health care workers - who are ideally placed to be the voice of aged care residents, and report skin concerns early,” Dr Kapp reports.

She also identifies the need for turning and positioning patients. "Health care workers must make the most of turning and positioning, particularly given the extensive amount of time and effort that this activity requires.”

"What we all need to remember is that while the body is amazingly good at healing wounds, it always needs help. And the earlier the better,” she adds.

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