Factors that Can Slow Down the Wound Healing Process

Factors Slow Wound Healing ProcessWound healing, which is a normal biological process in the human body includes four precisely and highly programmed phases: hemostasis, inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling. In most wounds, healing progress should be visible within a four-week period. Large numbers of cell types including neutrophils, macrophages, lymphocytes, keratinocytes, fibroblasts, and endothelial cells are involved in this process.

For successful wound healing, all four phases must occur in the proper sequence and time frame. Many factors can interfere with one or more phases of this process, causing improper or impaired wound healing.

The most significant factors that affect wound healing include:

  • Oxygenation - Oxygen is important as it prevents wounds from getting infected. Sufficient oxygen supply can induce angiogenesis, increase keratinocyte differentiation, migration, and re-epithelialization, enhance fibroblast proliferation and collagen synthesis, and promote wound contraction.
  • Infection - Bacterial infection often occurs in an open wound. Nurses must make sure to report any abnormal changes in the wound to the physician so that appropriate antibiotics are prescribed to treat the infection. The clinical signs of wound infection may include erythema, heat, local swelling, and pain.
  • Dead skin - Also known as necrosis, dead or devitalized necrotic tissues like slough and Eschar can delay healing. While slough is moist, loose, stringy necrotic tissue that is typically yellow, Eschar appears as dry, thick, leathery tissue, and may be black.
  • Age - Wounds tend to take longer to heal in elderly people. Age plays a key role in healing wounds properly. Seniors are likely to experience lengthier recovery times, as their skin suffers from reduced elasticity. The older we get, the more likely we are to need wound infection treatment, as our immune systems weaken with age.
  • Stress - Psychological stress can cause substantial delay in wound healing. Caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s and students undergoing academic stress during examinations demonstrated delayed wound healing.
  • Smoking - Smoking interferes with the body’s immune system and impairs healing, resulting in increased risk of complications. Wound healing may be delayed in patients who smoke post-operatively, and there could be an increase in complications such as infection, wound rupture, anastomotic leakage, wound and flap necrosis.
  • Nutrition - Consumption of nutrients and proteins can speed up the progress of healing wounds. Carbohydrates and fats are necessary for providing the body with energy, and fatty acids promote wound healing as well.

Whatever factors affect wound recovery, all of them must be accurately documented using an advanced wound EMR. Clear documentation helps physicians and nurses to provide the right treatment.