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6 reasons why your wound won't heal

Posted July 27, 2020 by Lesa Lariccia, Wound Care Center Consultant

Wound Care Solutions

You know the saying, “Time heals all wounds.”? Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily true. Chronic wounds can linger for weeks, even months, and in many cases don’t heal without medical intervention. 

A wound is considered chronic if it has not healed significantly in four weeks or completely in eight weeks. If you’re suffering from a wound or sore that isn’t showing any signs of healing, talk to your doctor. If left untreated, chronic wounds can cause dangerous complications.

A fresh wound is usually red, irritated and possibly swollen, whereas a chronic wound has distinctive symptoms, including:

  • No signs of healing within a 30-day period, such as scabs or new tissue
  • Numbness around the wound area
  • A change in color
  • A foul odor
  • Discharge from the wound
  • Noticeable swelling

When a wound remains stagnant, there are usually one or more underlying conditions that need to be treated to allow the healing process to resume. 

By understanding what those reasons may be, you can take steps to treat the issues and get your wound back to a healing state. Summa Health discusses 6 reasons that may be delaying or even stopping your wound from healing.


Your skin is your body’s first line of defense against infection. When the skin breaks, it allows bacteria to enter the body through an open wound. Infections in a wound can all but halt the healing process. The body fights the infection, instead of healing the wound.

If a wound gets infected, you may notice redness, swelling and pain around the site, as well as puss or foul-smelling fluid. Antibiotic treatment may be used to fight the infection.

Poor Circulation

During the healing process, your body’s red blood cells carry new cells to the site to begin rebuilding tissue. Poor blood circulation can slow down this process, making the wound that much longer to heal.  Chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, can cause poor blood circulation. Exercising or elevating the wound can help improve circulation. 

Poor Nutrition

The body needs an adequate supply of protein to build new tissue, as much as three times the normal daily requirement. Proper hydration is also key in helping wounds heal. 

Unfortunately, poor nutrition is often overlooked as a reason for wounds that won’t heal. 


Elevated blood sugar can slow down a diabetic’s blood circulation and negatively impact his immune system, putting him at a higher risk of infection. 

In addition, a person with diabetes can have nerve damage, so he may not feel when something is hurting, causing a wound to go unnoticed.

Excessive Swelling

Excessive swelling is caused by fluid accumulating in the skin and can impair the body’s ability to heal a wound by restricting oxygen to the skin. 

A variety of compression therapies can be used to remove the fluid. Once the swelling goes down, proper wound healing can begin. 

Repetitive Trauma

When a person doesn’t change positions often and a wound is subject to repetitive trauma or pressure, it can lengthen or even stop the healing process due to a slow down of blood circulation. Paraplegics, spinal cord injury patients or those on bed rest are at a greater risk for repetitive trauma.

Continuous moving or repositioning can relieve the pressure and allow proper circulation to the area so the wound can heal.

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If your situation is an emergency, call 911.