Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why Do Cuts Take So Long to Heal?

Q&A with Dr. Asqual Getaneh

Photo Credit WebMD

Q: What can I do to help with the healing of cuts? I have type 2 diabetes and it seems to take forever for any wounds to heal.

A: You raise an important issue. Wounds are more difficult to heal in people with diabetes for various reasons: Wounds are infected quite easily; blood circulation to the wound might be poor; some diabetics might have nutritional deficits; and often wounds are managed poorly. 

More importantly, having high glucose levels causes poor immune response and makes the cell walls become rigid. As a result, the flow of much-needed oxygen and nutrients is impaired. Feet in particular are more vulnerable to wounds that heal poorly, especially among diabetics who have lost sensation due to nerve damage.

My first recommendation is to examine your hands, feet, and other vulnerable areas such as insulin injection sites daily for any sign of early skin breaks. 

Second, if you have identified worrisome areas, seek immediate medical attention. A callus or scrape on your feet, and especially any sign of infection in the toe webs (the connective skin between your toes) should be taken care of early by a foot specialist or your doctor. This is a very important step to prevent the development of ulcers or a skin infection called cellulitis. 

Third, if you have a skin break on your feet, try to stay off your feet. If you have a wound anywhere else, prevent pressure that will further compromise blood circulation. Fourth, always maintain adequate nutrition and hydration. Fifth, and most importantly, maintain a close-to-normal glucose level.

Once you have an ulcer, close follow-up with your doctor or a wound specialist is important. You might need to apply an antibiotic ointment or take an antibiotic pill if the wound is infected. Also, the wound should be kept moist. Finally, your doctor might prescribe other agents that are applied to the wound to speed up healing.

Article Source: Everyday Health

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