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Why Some Wounds Heal Differently Than Others

Posted October 2020 by Biodermis
Everybody’s wounds heal differently depending on a variety of factors. Likewise, your own wounds might heal differently at different stages of your life. It is well known that the wound healing process becomes less effective as you get older. Certain lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise can have a dramatic impact on the way your wounds heal. External factors such as sun exposure as well as harmful environmental pathogens can also impede the wound healing process. Most of us want our wounds to heal quickly and seamlessly. For this reason, it is good to understand what might be hindering your wounds to heal and what you can do to speed up the process.

What accounts for the differences in wound healing?

What affects wound healing?

Aging
As we get older, our skin becomes weaker. The skin is made up of structural protein fibers called collagen and elastin. Over time, these proteins lose their integrity and their strength, leading to wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin. There also aren’t as many growth factors in the skin in old age. This means that when we sustain a wound, it will take much longer to fully heal. Wound healing responses such as inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling all function at a slower pace. For this reason, the elderly need to be more cautious when it comes to their skin and observe wound healing best practices.

Genetics
Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do about our genetics, but it can be helpful to understand how they might be affecting your skin. Not everything is known about how wound healing is connected to genetics, but new research suggests the microbiome that lives on our skin plays a role. The biodiversity of microbes that live on our skin, or lack thereof, can either hinder or facilitate wound healing.

Medical conditions
One example of a medical condition that affects wound healing is diabetes. People with diabetes have abnormal glucose levels that can result poor oxygen and blood circulation. When blood doesn’t circulate properly, oxygen and other nutrients that are required for proper wound healing won’t be delivered. As a result, wound healing is delayed and the risk of wound infection increases.

Lifestyle choices
There are a number of lifestyle choices that may be affecting your body’s ability to heal itself and stave off infection. People who are heavy drinkers or smokers may have problems with wound healing. Drinking is known to affect the immune system and slow down wound healing. Excessive drinking after surgery or injury can also increase the risk of infections at the wound site. Smoking can likewise affect wound healing due to nicotine being a vasoconstrictor (narrowing of the blood vessels). When the blood vessels are constricted, not enough oxygen and nutrients are able to reach to wound site. Other lifestyle choices such as poor diet and inadequate exercise can also lead to problems with the body’s ability to heal itself and fight off infection.

Environmental factors
Excessive exposure to UV radiation from the Sun can have damaging long-term effects on the skin. UV rays are known to breakdown the collagen fibers in the skin, leading to a loss of structural integrity. As we saw with aging, a loss of structural integrity in the skin translates to delayed wound-healing and remodeling. Other environmental factors affecting your wounds may be as subtle as low moisture levels in the environment. People who live in dry, arid climates often have problems with dry, cracking skin. Wounds need moisture to heal properly. When your environment is robbing you of that essential moisture, wound healing will be affected.


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