Several factors can cause a wound, compromise its healing, or even cause an acute wound to become a chronic wound, with all the risks of complications that brings, including the risk of recurrence. Below are some of the risk factors usually present:
Disease-related risk factors
- Venous insufficiency: Prevents the blood from reaching the upper body (moving towards the heart). It causes blood to stagnate in the veins as a result.
- Diabetes: Causes a high blood sugar level, damages the arteries and nerves, especially in the feet, rendering certain types of injury (even minor) imperceptible.
- Arterial insufficiency: Prevents the wound from being sufficiently irrigated with arterial blood which supplies the nutrients required for local healing.
- Malnutrition: Responsible for essential nutrient deficiency which the wound needs to be able to repair and heal.
Lifestyle-related risk factors
- Smoking: Can damage the arteries (atheromatous plaque on the wall) and thus reduce the oxygen supply to the wound.
- Wearing uncomfortable shoes: Can impair blood flow, exert pressure on an existing wound or cause friction which damages the skin.
- Non-observance of basic hygiene rules: Includes washing daily, drying well between the toes after washing and cutting toenails etc.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. A minimum level of physical activity is therefore recommended to ensure metabolic balance.
Patient profile-related risk factors
- Age: The skin becomes thinner with age, which increases tissue weakness even further. Elderly people are also more subject to skin dryness, as their skin is less well hydrated than young skin. Its lack of elasticity makes it less resistant to even minor shocks, and can slow the healing process.
- Mental health: Stress and depression are common among patients suffering with a wound, which sometimes takes a long time to heal. Management of these factors, whether related to pain, to the time required for healing, the difficult treatment or a more general feeling of anxiety, is essential for a wound to go on to heal.