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Our skin is probably one of the most under-appreciated organs of our body. It is continually working to protect us from radiation damage from the sun, defending us from bacteria and viruses all around us, and continuously regenerating itself to make sure that it is always prepared for the next round of assault it may face. At some point in all of our lives, we can think back and remember a time when we had a bad bruise, a deep cut or a bothersome scab but like most things, they will eventually heal with time. As long as everything is going according to plan, we ignore these natural processes but what happens when these wounds are not healing? Non-healing wounds are a widespread occurrence in modern society, and it is expected that this anomaly will become even more prevalent in the near future. Here, I will discuss what these non-healing wounds could possibly mean and what you should do if you find yourself with a non-healing ulcer.

One of the first thoughts that will pop into a doctor’s head when he hears about a non-healing ulcer is that he should check the patient’s sugar levels. Patients that suffer from high sugar levels have a disease that everyone should know as type II diabetes. One of the dangerous side effects of long-term diabetes would be the development of these non-healing ulcers. This is a very dangerous condition because these wounds act like passageways for dangerous bacteria to enter the body and begin to cause damage. Some of the real possibilities include local tissue death, abscess formation and even sepsis if this bacteria is able to spread to other parts of the body. The reason that these wounds do not heal properly is because of the very sugar that has caused diabetes in the first place. Sugar is one of the staple ingredients of many of the foods we eat and it is only natural for us to crave sugar at various parts of the day. It can provide instant energy if we are groggy but if we consume too much of it, it can start to act like a poison on our body. Sugar that is not processed by insulin is able to move around our blood stream unopposed and start to damage blood vessels, tissue and damage nerves. Once this damage starts to happen, it is irreversible. It is even possible that nerves become so damaged that you don't even notice sore feet or legs anymore and wounds form without your knowledge. 

Another pathology that can lead to tissue death and chronic wounds would be any issue with circulation. Peripheral artery disease is a term to describe problems with circulation in the body. If there are blockages due to atherosclerosis, blood will not be able to access sites where wounds occur. Without blood, important immune factors and oxygen necessary to store the tissue with much lower than needed to start to heal the wounds. 

The last common cause of non-healing wounds would be from superficial skin infections that are not responsive to antibiotics. Cellulitis is a common infection and is essentially just inflammation of our skin. Because of the overuse of antibiotics for small infections, many of these superficial infections that cause cellulitis are becoming resistant to antibiotics and patients risk having the same complications. If you notice discharge from these non-healing wounds, make sure you get your wound checked for bacteria so doctors will be able to determine what antibiotics may be able to help you. [1]

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