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.

Staph Infection on the Skin

Red pimple

Staphylococcus Aureus (staph) is a group of bacteria that can cause many diseases. It is commonly found on the skin in most people and it usually doesn’t cause infection until it enters the body through breaks in the skin or with food. These infections can range from being mild (not requiring any treatment) to very severe.
When staph infections develop on the skin, they can take on many different forms depending on the severity. The wound may be superficial (boils, abscess, furuncle) or deep (cellulitis). Usually these skin lesions are red, swollen and tender to the touch. There may also be pus that drains from the infection site. Severe infections which have entered the blood stream cause sepsis and manifest with high fever, chills, low blood pressure, and eventually shock.
Staph infections tend to be contagious when there is direct skin to skin contact with an infected wound.  They can also be transmitted with shared razors, gloves, socks, needles, and bandages. Prevention of staph infections can be achieved with frequent hand washing, avoiding contact with open wounds, and thorough cleansing of scrapes and cuts as soon as they occur.
People who are at higher risk for developing staph infections include:
• Diabetics
• Newborns
• Patients with cancer, lung disease, and vascular disease
• Intravenous drug users
• People with weakened immune systems
Treatment for staph infections depends on the severity. If it is a minor skin lesion, cleaning it with soap and water regularly may be sufficient whereas other wounds may require topical antibiotic ointments. More severe wounds will require surgical intervention and oral or intravenous antibiotics to control further spreading and eventually resolve the infection.
Minor skin rashes in children can be treated by a pediatrician and for adults by an internist or family medicine doctor.  More severe wounds and wounds that are difficult to heal may require the specialized care offered in the wound care clinic. To schedule an appointment with the appropriate physician, please call 718-670-5486.

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.

What to Know About Bacterial Skin Disorders

Red pimple

Red pimple

Staphylococcus Aureus (staph) is a group of bacteria that can cause many diseases. It is commonly found on the skin in most people and it usually doesn’t cause infection until it enters the body through breaks in the skin or with food. These infections can range from being mild (not requiring any treatment) to very severe.
When staph infections develop on the skin, they can take on many different forms depending on the severity. The wound may be superficial (boils, abscess, furuncle) or deep (cellulitis). Usually these skin lesions are red, swollen and tender to the touch. There may also be pus that drains from the infection site. Severe infections which have entered the blood stream cause sepsis and manifest with high fever, chills, low blood pressure, and eventually shock.
Staph infections tend to be contagious when there is direct skin to skin contact with an infected wound.  They can also be transmitted with shared razors, gloves, socks, needles, and bandages. Prevention of staph infections can be achieved with frequent hand washing, avoiding contact with open wounds, and thorough cleansing of scrapes and cuts as soon as they occur.
People who are at higher risk for developing staph infections include:
• Diabetics
• Newborns
• Patients with cancer, lung disease, and vascular disease
• Intravenous drug users
• People with weakened immune systems
Treatment for staph infections depends on the severity. If it is a minor skin lesion, cleaning it with soap and water regularly may be sufficient whereas other wounds may require topical antibiotic ointments. More severe wounds will require surgical intervention and oral or intravenous antibiotics to control further spreading and eventually resolve the infection.
Minor skin rashes in children can be treated by a pediatrician and for adults by an internist or family medicine doctor.  More severe wounds and wounds that are difficult to heal may require the specialized care offered in the wound care clinic. To schedule an appointment with the appropriate physician, please call 718-670-5486.

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.