The color of a wound can tell you a lot about the progress of treatment.
Color is often used as a signal and to issue a warning: think stoplights and fire trucks. It’s an instantly recognizable way to indicate the condition of healing wounds, of which you need to be aware.
But did you know identifying colors can also be a key way to monitor the progress of wound healing? As the condition of a wound changes, the tone and hue can give you clues into whether the condition is improving or getting worse. Here’s a brief look at the colors of wounds and what they could mean:
The “Handbook of Primary Care Procedures” stated that this shade signals the wound is healing normally, creating a layer of granulation tissue that covers the base of the wound. It starts off as pink but as it becomes thicker, it turns into a deeper red or even a hue not unlike red grapefruit. Clear fluid may seep from the wound but this helps to keep the area clean. It could be tender to the touch, so at this stage, the wound should be covered to keep it clean, moist and protected. Use a gauze bandage that contains a sterile saline solution or is coated with antibiotics.
A wound this color, the handbook said, indicates the presence of exudate that is the result of microorganisms that have accumulated. Normally, the body’s immune system removes these germs, but if there is an overabundance of protein and cellular debris, it becomes visible and takes on a yellowish hue. At this stage, a clinician should be alerted. The wound should be irrigated (either with hydrotherapy or high-pressure irrigation) and cleaned of the exudate, then covered with a moist wound bandage.
The handbook explained that a wound can appear to be both red and yellow. In such a scenario, it’s best to classify the wound according to the least healthy condition of the two colors to be safe, which in this case would be yellow, and see a clinician for wound treatment.
Healthtimes stated the color black indicates the least healthy wound condition, necrosis, which is the death of cells in tissue. This is possibly due to a problem with the blood supply to the wound. The dead tissue damages the healing process and allows infectious microorganisms to develop and proliferate. A wound that turns black needs to be debrided, which means removing the dead tissue, followed by the application of a moist dressing.
Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.