A wound is a type of injury such as cuts, scrapes, scratches or punctures that breaks the skin or other body tissues. Wounds occur normally due to accidents, willful acts such as stabbing or as a result of surgery, sutures and stitches and are generally classified as open wounds or closed wounds. While most minor wounds are relatively harmless and heal naturally, deep and infected wounds where the bleeding does not stop or it does not heal over a period of time, medical attention will be required to clean and treat the wound so as to prevent infection. Most wounds are generally painful and an infected wound causes severe pain.
Wounds are generally classified as:
- Clean wound, like in the case of a surgery, made under sterile conditions where there are no organisms present in the wound and the wound is likely to heal without complications.
- Contaminated wound, as in the case of accidents or stab wounds where there are pathogenic organisms and foreign bodies in the wound.
- Infected wound, such as puncture wounds, or animal bites where the wound has pathogenic organisms and showing clinical signs of infection. In such cases the wound looks yellow, oozing pus, having pain and redness.
- Colonized wound, such as bedsore, where the wound is a chronic one and there are a number of organisms present and very difficult to heal.’
Treatment options for wounds are decided by the doctor based on patient’s age, health conditions, nature of the wound and may include:
- Cleaning the wound to remove dirt and debris from the location.
- Dressing the wound using an appropriate method, based on the type of wound.
- Using medication to relieve the pain.
- Surgical exploration in case of deep wounds affecting internal organs.
- Closing large wounds with staples or stitches.
- Wound debridement.
- Treatment for infection control using antibiotics or antimicrobial dressings.
- Vaccination for tetanus in some cases of traumatic injury
Factors that can slow the wound healing process include:
- Dead skin and foreign materials
- Bacterial infection
- Mechanical damage – friction and constant pressure as in the case of a person with bedsore.
- Diet – Insufficient nutrients can affect wound healing
- Medical conditions such as diabetes, anemia and some vascular diseases that restrict blood flow to the area.
- Age of the patient – wounds take longer time to heal in elderly people.