If you’ve developed a wound on one of your legs, ankles, or feet that just won’t seem to heal, you may have more serious underlying health concerns to consider. In fact, if your open sore has persisted for longer than a few weeks, it’s time to schedule an appointment with our team at Vascular Vein Centers.
From six offices across Central Florida, our board-certified experts specialize in venous ulcer treatment and wound care, helping to prevent the kind of serious complications that can come with a slow-healing sore — from infection and tissue death to amputation.
Here, we discuss the most common causes of slow-healing wounds and explain why you should never ignore one.
When a wound doesn’t heal
Whether it began as a small scratch, an itchy insect bite, an ingrown hair cyst, or something else, you probably didn’t think such a minor wound would wind up turning into such a major problem.
Soon after your sore opened, it formed a scab; but that scab fell away and revealed an open wound — not the freshly healed skin tissue you expected to see. Another scab formed slowly and eventually fell away, revealing more of the same: a persistently open, non-healing wound.
Any sore that doesn’t heal within three months is considered a chronic wound. If you have a slow-healing ulcer that follows these scabbing-reopening patterns — even if it’s only been around for a couple of weeks — you should consider it a warning sign that requires attention.
Untreated ulcer complications
Ideally, it’s best to prevent slow-healing wounds from forming in the first place — especially if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or venous insufficiency. If a persistent sore or ulcer does happen to appear, prompt treatment is the next best course of action.
Why? Without a comprehensive wound management plan, your open ulcer can become much more problematic. Most slow-healing wounds don’t heal on their own; they require medical interventions to get better.
The longer your slow-healing wound goes untreated, the more vulnerable you become to developing serious complications. Never ignore a chronic wound for these three reasons:
A chronic wound is far more likely to become infected, simply because it’s open for weeks or months on end. An infected wound doesn’t remain a localized concern for long; it can quickly spread to nearby muscle and/or bone tissue (osteomyelitis). Even worse, it can spread to your blood and cause a life-threatening condition called sepsis.
2. Tissue death
If an infection in the wound and other localized tissue goes untreated, it can progress to the stage of tissue death, a condition known as gangrene. This serious problem develops when deep infection and poor circulation combine to effectively stop blood flow to the affected tissue area, causing its cells to die.
If gangrene isn’t addressed right away, it quickly sets the stage for a possible limb loss. Though it may be possible to remove dead tissue and control the infection early on, severe gangrene may require the full or partial surgical removal of the affected foot or leg (amputation) to save your life.
Never ignore a chronic wound
When you have a slow-healing wound, secondary prevention efforts — or those that aim to improve vascular function, increase circulation, accelerate healing, and alleviate pain — are vital for protecting your limb as well as your life. Your comprehensive wound care plan may include:
- Wound dressing changes; antibiotics
- Prescription compression stockings
- Dead tissue removal (debridement)
- Skin grafts; hyperbaric oxygen therapy
- Bracing or orthotics to off-load pressure
- Physical therapy; nutritional therapy
Do you need help with a slow-healing wound? See our experts at Vascular Vein Centers. Call or click online to schedule a visit at your nearest office in College Park of Orlando, Waterford Lakes of East Orlando, Kissimmee, Davenport/Haines City, Lake Mary, or The Villages, Florida.