Winter means those with wound healing issues should take special precautions.

In many part of the country, winter is settling in and while that can mean fun activities like skiing and sledding, it can also mean trouble for patients undergoing wound healing.

Cold weather can negatively impact the wound healing process, including diabetic wounds. In addition, the change in temperature affects how you will have to care for the wound, including dressing and drainage.

Let’s look at how cold weather can affect the progress of wound healing and what you can do to keep the progress moving in a positive direction.

How cold affects wound

The Wound Care Education Institute stated that lower temperatures can be hard on skin as it caused it to dry out and sometimes crack (think about chapped lips). Meanwhile, winter can also bring on cold and flu season and the viruses and bacteria that cause them. Because your immune system will focus on attacking and fighting off these germs, it can leave your wound open to possible infection

The colder temperatures can also slow blood flow, which is an important part of the wound healing process. When circulation is poor, it prevents oxygenation of the wound site, which makes it difficult to ward off harmful bacteria. In addition, poor circulation also inhibits the regeneration of tissue around the wound site.

Finally, to avoid the cold, those with wounds might opt to stay indoors, but this presents problems. Also, inactivity can impede blood flow and, thus, healing.

To protect wounds during the winter season, individuals should:

Keep active:

Because activity is important to blood circulation wound healing, going outside is advised but the key is to keep the wound area warm and covered, and ensure the wound dressing is not so tight as to prevent good circulation. Poor circulation can lead to a loss of feeling in the wound area, according to the European Wound Management Association. This can also cause the condition of the wound to become worse. Low impact activities like swimming and yoga are good ways to keep the blood circulating.

Keep the area covered:

Keep the wound area covered with the proper dressing so that the area remains warm and moist (moisture is important to the healing process). To further keep the area from drying out, applying a moisturizer recommended by your clinician can help. According to Wound Source, research has found that wounds heal 50 percent faster if kept moist.

Avoid the flu:

Take precautions to avoid contracting a cold or the flu to prevent your body from redirecting the immune system away from the wound. Consider getting a flu shot and avoid places where large numbers of people gather (public transit, offices, etc.) and the chances of contracting the flu is high.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.