It is estimated that more than 6.7 million people live with non-healing wounds.

June 3 kicks off Wound Awareness Week and aims to help raise awareness, including diabetics whose non-healing wounds can lead to amputation. People with diabetes are far more likely to have a foot or leg amputated as a result of foot complications, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Diabetic patients’ wounds typically take longer to heal, and unfortunately a chronic wound can lead to an amputation if it’s not treated. Diabetics are more prone to infection. A diabetic whose blood sugar is out of control can make it even harder for a wound to heal. In general, nutrition also is an important factor in wound healing for diabetics.

Stacie Bryant is a nurse practitioner and a wound, ostomy and continence nurse at the Wound Care Center in Florence. She estimates close to three-fourths of the patients she sees in the Center are diabetics.

“Neuropathy is a big problem with diabetic patient,” Bryant said. “It causes you to lose feeling in your limbs. Because diabetics have neuropathy, they can’t feel their feet or toes and may get a small wound which becomes a big problem. It doesn’t take long, especially if you have diabetes. Something can flare up in a short period of time.”

National Wound Awareness Week is dedicated to raising awareness that advanced wound care is available and many times can prevent amputations.

Part of helping diabetics with non-healing wounds is education. Bryant said it’s important to look at your feet every day.

“Even a day or two without checking is plenty of time for a wound to flare up,” she said. “Also, don’t walk around without shoes – no matter what – and flip-flops don’t count as shoes.”

Both Bryant and I agree one of the first steps to healing is figuring out why a wound isn’t healing. The goal is to heal someone with a chronic wound in less than 12 weeks, for most wounds.

“When a patient comes to us at the Wound Care Center, it doesn’t always mean something is severe,” Bryant said. “It could be something as simple as getting the proper shoe. If a wound takes longer to heal, it’s important to re-evaluate your approach and try a different treatment strategy. I tell all our patients we need to work as a team.”

In recent years, wound care has improved. There have been a lot of changes in wound care over the past 10-15 years. Now there are many different wound-care products that can be used, both biologic and non-biologic, There’s also been research on how to stimulate the wound healing process so people can get the best result possible.

The MUSC Health-Florence Wound Care Center provides specialized care for non-healing wounds. If you notice any of the symptoms listed below, it is important to call your wound care doctor.

Call a wound care doctor if you notice:

  • Increasing redness around the wound.
  • Warm or red skin.
  • A red streak spreading from the wound.
  • An increase in wound drainage.
  • An abnormal odor.
  • Fever or chills.
  • Increased pain.
  • Tenderness in the area of infection.
  • Increased swelling around the wound.
  • Wound increases in size.
  • Wound develops blisters.
  • Increased weakness.
  • A wound that won’t heal.

Dr. Mark Pack is a member of the medical staff at MUSC Health-Florence Medical Center and practices at MUSC Health-Floyd Medical Group. He is the medical director of the MUSC Health-Florence Medical Center Wound Care Center. For more information, call 843-674-4570.