Wound Healing Through the Ages

The earliest records of wound healing techniques date back to 2500 BC from ancient Egypt. Wounds were believed to have a spiritual component back then and so part of the healing process involved using donkey feces to ward off evil spirits. This actually seemed to work owing to an antibacterial effect of the material used.  As time passed, wound healing was aided by techniques that provided an antibiotic effect and included the washing of wounds with herbs, minerals, milk, and water. Hippocrates in Greece, around 400 BC described using wine or vinegar as materials needed to cleanse the wound of impurities.
As wound healing progressed it became apparent that a covering might help to protect it from further harm. After the wounds were thoroughly washed, they were dressed in wool that had been boiled in water. Cotton gauze became more widely used around the fifth century BC and was used for centuries until synthetic materials like rayon were developed in the 20th century that were more effective. Also, during the 20th century different materials were developed that were better suited to covering a wound without sticking, allowed for air to penetrate and that also contained substances that promoted quicker healing.
During the 20th century antibacterial dressings were more commonly used to keep the wounds free of bacteria. Interestingly, honey which had been employed for thousands of years was found to still be very effective as a wound healing agent because of its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Throughout history, many of the wound healing materials were developed on the battlefield. Iodine which was used as an antiseptic was used during WW I to treat gangrenous battlefield wounds and later found its way to the general public.
As advanced as the field of wound healing is today, many of the techniques developed in ancient times are still incorporated in the treatment of wounds today. It is a constantly evolving field of medicine and as wounds become more complex, so do the treatment options.
If you have a chronic or non-healing wound, you may be a candidate for Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s outpatient Wound Care Center.  To schedule an appointment or speak with a clinician, please call 718-670-4542.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Pressure Ulcers

Pressure sores areaPressure ulcers or bed sores are damaged areas of skin that result from staying in one position for too long or prolonged pressure on the skin.   They tend to develop in areas where the skin is closest to the bones such as the heels, back, elbows and tailbone.

People who are limited in movement due to an illness or disability and are confined to a bed or wheelchair for an extended period of time are more at risk of developing pressure ulcers than others.  Others who are also at risk of developing pressure ulcers. Those who wear prosthesis, diabetics, smokers and sufferers of peripheral arterial disease are also at risk of developing pressure ulcers.

Pressure ulcers develop quickly; here are the warning signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Tenderness, pain, softness or firmness, warmness or coldness of an area of skin.
  • The skin is not broken but red.
  • Redness or discoloration- If pressure is removed from an area that is discolored for more than 30 minutes and the skin has not returned to its natural hue, it is likely that an ulcer is developing.
  • The outer layer of the skin is damaged. The area may blister or appear as an open wound.
  • Loss of skin.

The following symptoms are likely to occur in the advanced stages of a pressure ulcer:

  • The ulcer appears as a deep wound or crater-like.
  • Loss of skin exposes a layer of fat, muscle, tendons or bones.
  • There is tissue at the bottom of the wound that is dead, brown, black or yellow in color.

Pressure ulcers can be easier to prevent than treat. They can be prevented by:

  • Changing positions
  • Frequently shifting weight
  • Using a specialty wheelchair
  • Using a specialized mattress
  • Using cushions to relieve pressure
  • Monitoring skin
  • Protecting skin

If you are at risk for developing pressure ulcers it is recommended that you and your healthcare team develop a strategy to help in prevention or treatment.

The Wound Care Center at Flushing Hospital Medical Center is a state-of-the-art unit that provides specialized, interdisciplinary wound care to patients who suffer from non-healing or chronic wounds.
For more information on the Wound Care Center or to schedule an appointment, call 718-670-4542.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Can Honey Hasten Healing?

 

174828069 girl with honeyDid you know that out of all areas in the home, the kitchen is number one for getting burns and did you, also, know that the kitchen is a place you can find home remedies for that burn?

While most minor burns will heal on their own, there are home treatment remedies that can relieve your symptoms and promote healing, such as:

  • Honey – Honey has long been a remedy to disinfect wounds and heal burns. When applied to a burn, honey draws out fluids from the tissues, effectively cleaning the wound. You may also apply the honey to a gauze bandage, which is less sticky than direct application. On a piece of sterile gauze, place a dollop of honey and put the bandage directly on the burn, honey-side down. The dressing should be changed three to four times per day.
  • Additional home remedies for burns that can be found in your kitchen are:
  • Oatmeal – Oatmeal baths can help relieve the itch while the burn is healing
  • Tea bags – Tea bags contain tannic acid and help draw the heat from a burn. Gently dab the liquid, from a luke-warm water moistened tea bag, on the burn site.
  • Vinegar – Vinegar works as an astringent and antiseptic on minor burns and helps prevent infection. Dilute the vinegar with equal parts water, and rinse the burned area with the solution.
  • Cool water. – While ice is nice for sore muscles, cool water is the best liquid refreshment for burned skin. Ice can restrict blood flow to the burn site and further damage delicate tissues. Instead, gently run cool water or place cool compresses over the burn site for ten minutes. Do this as quickly as possible, preferably within seconds of getting a burn. Cool water not only feels good but will help stop the burn from spreading, and the sooner you run cool water on the burn, the greater the effect will be to reduce it.

Do’s and Don’ts to avoid burns:

  • DO lower the temperature of your hot-water heater to below 120 degrees F. A second-degree burn can happen within seconds in water that’s hotter than 120 degrees.
  • DO turn pot handles toward the back of the stove.
  • DO keep that steaming cup of java out of a child’s reach, which means off the coffee table or other low-lying areas.
  • DON’T ever leave a child unattended in the kitchen.
  • DO make the stove area off-limits to children.
  • DO put a childproof lock on the oven door.
  • DO keep oven mitts and potholders handy when cooking.

You can try these remedies for minor burns, but if you suspect you may have a more severe injury, please seek medical treatment immediately.

For more information on wound care or to schedule an appointment  , please call the Flushing Hospital Wound Care Center at 718-670-4542.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.