Most of the time, your skin protects you from the environment, keeps bugs and bacteria at bay, and holds your insides in. But once that barrier is breached, all bets are off. Blood comes out, pathogens get in, and infection sets up shop.
That’s why Joseph Goin, MD, and our team at Calvary Urgent Care in Humble, Texas, take wound care so seriously. Even minor scrapes and cuts have the potential to get infected and become far worse than the original injury. If you have a wound that’s not getting better, come see us for comprehensive care.
Normal stages of wound healing
Your body is designed to repair and heal itself. Often, this process takes place internally without much fanfare, but when you have a skin wound, you can watch the process happen from start to finish. Here are the stages of normal wound healing.
1. Stopping the bleeding
Technically called hemostasis, this is the part where your body sends healing properties (platelets) to the wound site and causes the blood to clot or thicken. This isn’t the dangerous kind of blood clot, but rather a helpful way to prevent too much blood loss.
As the platelets flood the wound site, they form a plug to stop the blood flow, and as your blood coagulates, a protein called fibrin creates a “net” to “glue” the plug in place. You know this crusty tissue as a scab.
Once the surface of your skin is closed over, your body cleans the site from within. It starts by opening up the vessels near the wound again to allow blood to bathe the area. You see this as swelling, and it may be red and warm as oxygen and nutrients rush to the site.
Next, white blood cells called macrophages arrive at the scene and fight any pathogens that may have entered the wound.
4. Repairing and rebuilding
Once the area is clean and germ-free, the macrophages produce growth factors that help repair damaged tissues and knit them back together.
Your red blood cells trigger cell renewal and the generation of new tissues. At the same time, your body amps up its production of collagen, which is a fibrous protein that acts like scaffolding on a construction site, forming a foundation for new cells to build on.
When healing is mostly complete, you see a raised red scar that morphs into a flatter pink scar or a puckered, stretched scar. Over time, these scars will fade and become less noticeable. It may take three months or longer for your wound to heal completely inside and out, and it may only be about 80% as strong as the original, unwounded skin.
Signs your wound isn’t healing properly
Now that you know what proper healing looks like, let’s take a look at how to spot wounds that don’t follow the normal progression. If bacteria, germs, and fungi invade your wound, you get an infection that slows the healing process and may cause more serious complications if left untreated. Signs of an infected wound include:
- Excessive redness and swelling
- Continued bleeding
- Slow or no signs of healing
- Pain that doesn’t subside
- Warm or hot skin that doesn’t abate after a day or two
- Discharge from the wound (especially yellow or green)
- Foul odor
If you notice any of these symptoms, come see Dr. Goin right away to get your wound professionally cleaned and treated.
Other reasons your wound isn’t healing well
The primary reason wounds don’t heal well is that they aren’t cleaned properly, and infection sets in. But other factors affect how wounds heal as well, including:
- Poor circulation
- Being overweight or obese
- Vascular disease
In fact, about 6.5 million Americans have trouble healing from wounds, and this becomes a chronic condition. That’s where expert wound management comes in. Our team at Calvary Urgent Care can help you monitor your wounds and keep them clean even during a slow healing process.