Poor wound healing can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'minor' to 'life-threatening'. Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.
Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms. In order to diagnose poor wound healing, we could:
|Cigarette Smoke Damage||27%||Unlikely|
|Chemotherapy Side-Effects||4%||Ruled out|
|A Weight Problem||3%||Ruled out|
|Drug Side-Effects||2%||Ruled out|
|Need For Dietary Improvement||1%||Ruled out|
Wound healing. Do your wounds (any breaks in the skin) seem to take longer to heal than they would in other people? Small wounds normally take 3 days to 3 weeks to heal (grow new skin over the injury).
Possible responses:→ No / wounds heal quickly / don't know
→ Moderately - healing takes longer than it should
→ Severely - healing takes months (or even years)
Many medications inhibit wound healing. Examples include drugs that interfere with clot formation, platelet function, inflammatory responses, or cell proliferation; certain steroids, NSAIDs, chemotherapy drugs.
Alcohol impairs wound healing and increases the likelihood of wound infection. Alcohol impairs the early inflammatory response; it inhibits wound closure, development of new blood vessels, and collagen production; it alters the protease balance at the wound site, which is needed to remove foreign matter and dead tissue; it decreases resistance to infectious microorganisms.
Most chemotherapy drugs inhibit cell functions that are critical to proper wound repair.
Smoking delays wound healing by weakening the immune system and reducing oxygen levels.
A well-balanced diet provides the body with the tools (nutrients) it needs to repair wounds.
People with diabetes often have impaired wound healing. Even a tiny sore may remain unhealed and/or infected for months or even years. In severe cases, overwhelming infection and lack of oxygen and nutrients leads to gangrene.
Failure to provide either omega-6 or omega-3 fatty acids in the diet results in poor wound healing.
Human growth hormone (HGH) levels decline with age. HGH stimulates the production of collagen, which sticks wounds together, strengthens weakened tissue, gives skin more elasticity and helps wounds of the skin or bone heal faster and stronger.
Obese individuals often experience delayed wound healing due to a number of factors including: reduced oxygen, nutrient and blood supply to the wound site; moisture and microorganism collection in skin folds that decreases skin integrity and increases risk of infection; immobility, skin friction and skin shear impair the skin's barrier function.
Studies have shown that stressed individuals often exhibit significantly delayed wound healing.
Many studies have demonstrated enhanced wound and ulcer healing with oral zinc supplementation. The healing time of surgical wounds was reduced by 43% with zinc sulfate at 50mg tid. Not surprisingly, zinc deficiency is also associated with impaired wound healing. A study of patients deficient in zinc found that topically applied zinc oxide, but not zinc sulfate, enhanced the regeneration of epithelial tissue on leg ulcers. In addition, inflammation and bacterial growth were both reduced.
1. What is the use of zinc for wound healing? Int J Dermatol 1978;17: pp.568-70
2. Acceleration of healing with zinc sulfate. Ann Surg 1967;165: pp.432-6
3. Studies on zinc in wound healing. Acta Derm Venereol Suppl 1990;154: pp.1-36