We all get the occasional cut or scrape. However, when a wound on the leg does not heal, a medical examination is in order. Many people chalk-up slow healing wounds to getting older. As we age, our skin gets thinner and we may bruise or bleed more easily. We understand this logic. We hear it from patients frequently. And, we know that these factors are not the only reason a person may have a wound that persists for several weeks or months. According to studies, more than30% of slow-healing wounds are related to peripheral artery disease. Here, we discuss why these wounds are important to address sooner rather than later.
Where to Begin
The average person is not taught to see the differences between a normal cut, a sore, and a wound exacerbated by peripheral vascular disease. This condition, referred to as PAD, often results from atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries. It inhibits adequate circulation in the peripheral arteries; most notably the legs and feet. If a wound of any sort does not heal within a week or two, it can be helpful to take pictures daily to measure changes. A consultation with a primary care physician should be scheduled right away if the wound enlarges, becomes painful, or swells. In a healthy person, a wound should start to form a scab in about 4 days. Full healing should occur in 2 to 4 weeks.
If you notice a cut or sore that is not healing, you can:
- Apply antibacterial ointment one or more times a day.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing to prevent pressure.
- Cover the wound as needed but also allow it to “breathe” for a few hours a day.
- Schedule a consultation with your doctor.
- Track changes in the wound to show your doctor.
Peripheral Artery Disease and Slow-Healing Wounds
Peripheral vascular disease wounds often do not get diagnosed right away. We chalk this up to a lack of awareness. By the time most people see their doctor for a slow-healing wound, it has become infected and painful. Peripheral artery disease is a potentially serious problem that can result in the need to amputate a limb. A vascular specialist prefers to treat the problem early and manage vascular health so amputation does not become necessary.
Vascular Institute of Virginia offers exemplary care in a comfortable, friendly environment. Our team performs a comprehensive medical history and appropriate tests to diagnose peripheral artery disease. To schedule an appointment at our Fredericksburg or Woodbridge office, call 703-763-5224.