Certain risk factors may lead to chronic wounds, especially for those who have diabetes. These risk factors include:
- Malnutrition and diet
- Circulation problems
- Hyperglycemia-especially blood sugars over 150
- Kidney disease
- Certain medications
- Inability to adhere to your individual plan of care
- History of diabetes
Precautions You Can Take to Stay Wound-Free
There are many things you can do on a day-to-day basis that will help you stay healthy and avoid developing wounds that become more serious. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself throughout the year:
- Always wash your hands after being outside as dirty hands are a primary source of infection.
- For minor burns caused by barbeque grills and campfires, relieve pain and prevent contamination by submerging the burn in cool water. Use sterile dressings, but don't apply ointment or home remedies such as butter or petroleum jelly that may seal in heat or cause infection.
- Follow public health water warnings posted at beaches and lakes since even very small amounts of sewage or animal waste can infect open sores. For "swimmer's itch," an allergic skin rash cased by parasites in contaminated salt or fresh water, resist the impulse to scratch and soothe it with cool compresses, anti-itch lotion, corticosteroid cream or a paste made of baking soda.
- To prevent mosquito bites that may carry viruses, use enough insect repellent to cover exposed skin, but don't apply it to cuts, wounds or irritated skin. Reapplying after sweating or when mosquitoes begin to bite.
- To prevent Lyme disease caused by tick bites, choose light-colored clothing that enable ticks to be seen and cover your skin with long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat. Check yourself for ticks each night before going to bed after outdoor activities.
- Deep puncture wounds caused by nails and knives are especially susceptible to tetanus bacteria commonly found in soil. These wounds should be cleaned immediately and adults who have not had a tetanus-diphtheria shot in 10 years, or children who have not been vaccinated, should seek medical attention and receive the vaccine.
- All bites from unknown or wild animals require immediate medical attention, especially when the bite is deep or large, on the face, neck or hands or if there is swelling, redness, pain or infection draining from the wound. Animal bites also pose a tetanus threat to those who have not been vaccinated.
Extra Care for Those with Diabetes
Those who live with diabetes are prone to developing wounds that are difficult to heal and should take extra steps towards foot care and preventing wounds. The experts at the Wound Healing Center at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital advise those with diabetes to take the following precautions to stay healthy and prevent wounds from occurring:
- Visually inspect feet and between toes each day for signs of blisters, cuts, red spots or swelling.
- Break in new shoes before wearing them on a hike or vacation.
- Always wear seamless socks and avoid wearing sandals or shoes which can irritate the skin and lead to blisters.
- Seek medical attention if a leg or foot wound has not healed in 30 days and shows signs of infection such as increased pain, redness, swelling, odor, change in color or amount of drainage from the area.
- Do not use chemical agents to remove calluses and corns since they can further damage your skin. See a healthcare professional to remove loose pieces of skin from your feet.
- When choosing a pedicure salon, avoid risk of infection by checking that foot spas are disinfected nightly and between each customer.
- Microorganisms can enter through skin so don't use a foot spa if you have removed hair from your legs less than 24 hours before or if you have open wounds including bug bites, bruises, scratches or rashes such as poison ivy.
Wound Healing Center
MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
5601 Loch Raven Blvd., Suite 2 North
Baltimore, MD 21239
Take a Virtual Tour
Take a virtual tour of our newly-expanded Wound Healing Center that now offer eight treatment rooms and four hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers.
Wound Care Specialists
- David Zachary Martin, MD, Plastic Surgery, Medical Director
- Peter Allinson, MD, Hyperbaric Medicine, Medical Director
- Ravi Aloor, MD, Plastic Surgery
- Mouhamad O. Annous, MD, Vascular Surgery
- Narender Bharaj, MD, Internal Medicine
- William Hahn, DPM, Podiatry
- Dimitrios Mavrophilipos, MD, General Surgery
- Joseph Orlando, MD, Plastic Surgery
- Leigh Ann Price, MD, Plastic/Reconstructive Surgery
- John Sanatore, DPM, Podiatry