When speaking of wounds, the first image that strikes our mind is inflamed skin with pus filled it. But, after a week, the wounds tend to automatically heal. This is the case when the wounds are healing wounds. There are other chronic wounds that take time to heal, or in some cases, may never heal.
So the question is, why aren’t the wounds healing? Is it because of an underlying health condition? Is it because of an infection in the body?
This is what we are going to talk about in this article.
In my career of over 15 years, I have seen people with different types of wounds, including acute and chronic. I have been treating people in a completely holistic way by the virtue of Ayurveda. So today, I’ll be sharing the same knowledge on the classification of wounds, the healing process, and the causes of why wounds don’t heal.
Classification of wounds:
- Open & Closed Wounds
a. Open Wounds: These are wounds that are open to the environment outside and have exposed underlying tissue.
b. Closed Wounds: These sustain an injury that doesn’t reveal the underlying tissue or organs.
2. Acute & Chronic Wounds
a. Acute Wounds: These wounds heal without any complications within a few weeks of injury.
b. Chronic Wounds: These wounds are associated with an underlying condition and take longer to heal.
3. Clean & Contaminated Wounds
a. Clean Wounds: These wounds are free from debris or foreign materials inside.
b. Contaminated Wounds: These wounds contain foreign materials like bacteria, fungi, or dirt inside them.
Before moving on to what hinders the healing of wounds, let’s first get familiar with the stages of wound healing for better understanding. The wound is typically healed in three stages. These are mentioned below:
- Inflammatory Phase: In this stage, the body responds to the wound naturally (inflammation) and forms a clot to stop the bleeding. Blood arteries widen to allow vital cells to enter the injured area, such as antibodies, white blood cells, growth hormones, enzymes, and nutrition. These cells produce the “inflammation” that gives the phase its name: swelling, heat, discomfort, and redness.
2. Proliferation Phase: The wound is reconstructed at this point. As a new blood vessel network is developed to ensure that the tissue has enough oxygen and nutrients, the wound shrinks. The tissue is pink or crimson, has an irregular texture, and does not bleed readily in the healthy stages of wound healing. An infection may be indicated by dark tissue. New skin cells resurface the damage as the proliferative stage is coming to a close.
3. Maturation Phase: The scar starts to pare at this point as the wound completely closes. The “remodeling” process typically starts about 21 days after an injury and can last for a year or longer. However, the healed wound area will always be weaker than the surrounding, unharmed skin, typically recovering only 80% of the initial tensile strength.
But when the wound sticks in phase 1 (inflammatory phase), the wound is called a chronic wound. But what causes the wounds to not heal?
The reasons are many, but I have summed them up into 7 factors.
Factors that affect wound healing
- Age: Age affects every function in the body. This includes the functioning of internal systems and skin. Everything slows down with age, and so does the process of healing. As you age, your skin becomes thinner and your body exhibits a reduced inflammatory response, making it more susceptible to injury and more likely to heal slowly after an accident.
2. Nutrition: The right diet is essential for optimum healing. If you don’t get enough nutrients for cell development and repair, a wound won’t heal properly.
3. Obesity: Anyone who is 20% or more above their optimal body weight has a higher risk of developing an infection when their wound is healing.
4. Repeated Wounds: Your body’s defense mechanisms will be constrained and cause a sluggish rate of wound healing if you have numerous wounds or have had a serious injury (such as surgery).
5. Skin: For skin to survive, there must be enough liquid and moisture. If you have dry skin, which is particularly frequent in older people, you may be at risk for skin lesions, infections, and thickening. All of these conditions will slow the healing of wounds. Maintaining an ideal amount of skin moisture is essential for the healing of wounds, but on the other hand, if the skin is overly wet, you run the danger of developing maceration and/or infections.
6. Chronic Conditions: The body’s innate capacity to recover is directly impacted by chronic disorders. Cardiovascular disorders are among the most harmful, although diabetes and immune system disorders can also hinder wound healing.
7. Medications: Immunosuppressants may weaken the immune system and increase the risk of infection, while drugs like anticoagulants have the ability to interfere with blood clotting.
Wound healing is a set of processes that involve internal mechanisms. The healing of the wound is delayed if even one process is hindered. As we can see above, most of the points are common, and we tend to neglect them. The important factor that sets a barrier during the wound-healing process is our lifestyle.
So, is it possible to maintain our lifestyle and promote wound healing? What if I said there is a line of treatment that focuses on curing the condition from its root cause?
Being an Ayurvedic practitioner, I always believe that lifestyle is key to the healing process. That healing may be associated with a wound or a condition. Everything starts at a common point.