Treatment for Wound Care

The skin is the largest organ of the body and serves as the body’s major defense against infection. The nerves in the skin also serve as a method of communication with the outside world: they send signals to the brain regarding heat and cold, pain and pressure. When the skin is compromised by a wound, it can’t properly do its job of protecting against infection. Proper treatment for wound care is essential to preventing infection, preserving function and restoring the skin to its proper function and, if possible, appearance. Most wounds can be cared for at home, but some require evaluation and treatment by a medical professional.

Drug Treatment

The primary use for medications in wound care is to prevent infection and promote healing. Some of the medications used include:

* Antibiotics: may be given orally, but are more commonly applied to the wounded area in an ointment or spray. Antibiotics are more important if the wound is due to a bite or if the wound was exposed to river or lake water, or if underlying tendons or bones are involved.

* Pain relievers: such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be given to reduce pain and discomfort

* Topically applied growth factors: may be used to promote healing in chronic wounds, such as pressure sores

Surgical Treatment

There are several reasons for surgical treatment for wound care, including cleaning the wound and closing it.

* Sutures: Stitches, staples or surgical glue may be used to hold the skin together and prevent bacteria from entering the wound

* Debridement: in chronic wounds and pressure sores, dead skin and diseased tissues must be removed to allow for healing

* Skin grafting: to expedite healing of chronic wounds. The graft may be done with the patient’s own skin, with cadaver skin, or with a bioengineered skin substitute.

* Skin flap closure: a deep chronic wound may be closed with a skin flap after it has begun to heal and has been clean for a sufficient period of time

Lifestyle and Home Remedies

Most wounds can be treated at home with standard first aid care. Chronic and non-healing wounds should always be evaluated and treated by a doctor, who will recommend appropriate home care treatment for wound care, which may include:

* Proper nutrition: malnutrition is a serious risk factor for infection, gangrene and necrosis, so proper nutrition and a healthy diet are important to proper wound healing

* Cleaning and dressing: The doctor may recommend wet, moist or dry dressings containing a variety of ointments or medications to help promote skin healing and reduce the risk of gangrene

* Positioning: frequent changes of position to relieve pressure on affected areas and promote circulation

Alternative Therapies

Doctors who deal with chronic and non-healing wounds have long-used many alternative therapies to promote healing and prevent infection. Substances used to treat non-healing wounds include sugar, honey, meat tenderizer, seaweed, aloe vera and antacids. Maggot therapy has attracted a lot of attention recently to help prevent gangrene, and massage therapy may help encourage circulation to affected areas.

Stem Cell Therapy for Wound Care

Numerous studies have shown that mesnechymal stem cells, or adult stem cells, have a useful role in promoting skin healing, particularly in chronic wound care. Stem cells could potentially revolutionize wound repair and treatment for wound care.