Important Factors That Affect the Wound Healing Process

Wound Healing ProcessWound healing is a systematic process. Typically, a wound takes 1-4 weeks to heal depending on the severity. However, certain factors can lead to delayed wound healing. In such cases, it is important to find out why the wound is not healing properly.

Factors that Negatively Affect Wound Healing

Here are some factors that delay wound healing.

  • Infection: Infection is one of the most common reasons for delayed wound healing. An infected wound is defined as a localized defect or excavation of the skin or underlying soft tissue in which pathogenic organisms have invaded into viable tissue surrounding the wound. Infection of the wound triggers the body’s immune response, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage, and slowing the healing process. Persistent redness, swelling, pain and an off-color or foul-smelling fluid are indications that the wound is infected.
  • Age: Age is one of the key factors that affects wound healing. Elders are more likely to experience lengthier recovery times, as their skin has reduced elasticity, and their immune systems weaken with age. A wide range of chronic medical conditions can also make it more difficult for the body to quickly progress through the wound healing stages due to issues such as lack of oxygen in the blood or decreased circulation.
  • Nutrition: Wound healing depends on good nutrition and the presence of suitable polyunsaturated fatty acids in the diet. Nutritional deficiency may compromise the patient’s ability to heal and subsequently prolong the different stages of wound healing. The body requires adequate amounts of glucose, fatty acids, proteins and vitamins particularly vitamin C to heal the wound faster. Holistic assessment of nutrition and early detection of malnutrition helps avoid impaired wound healing.
  • Diabetes: Diabetic patients often experience slow or limited wound healing. Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body fails to produce enough insulin and increases a person’s blood glucose level. In fact, a high blood glucose level leads to the narrowing of blood vessels and stiffening of the arteries, as well as a decrease in the function of red blood cells. This reduces the efficiency of the white blood cells, and cannot fight off infection. When blood vessels are narrowed, blood and oxygen flow to the wound is reduced. Without adequate nutrients or oxygen, a wound tends to heal slowly.
  • Medication: Usage of certain medications can interfere with wound healing. Drugs that can slow wound healing are cytotoxic antineoplastic and immunosuppressive agents, corticosteroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and anticoagulants.
  • Drinking Alcohol: Alcohol intake can negatively affect wound healing. A study conducted by researchers from the Loyola University Health System found that binge alcohol exposure reduces the white blood cells that fight off bacteria and other harmful invaders. The scientists also found that binge alcohol exposure slows down the production of a special protein that is essential for the wound healing process.

The factors delaying wound healing should be assessed and documented as it helps healthcare providers to take necessary measures to speed up wound healing. Woundcare EHR helps physicians, nurses, and other clinicians complete the task of documenting wounds easily and accurately.