As October is coming to an end and winter and the holidays are approaching, so is the chillier weather. It is also a time to begin taking special precautions when it comes to lower extremity wound care, especially if you are diabetic and prone to poor circulation.
How Does Colder Weather Affect Wounds?
Cold weather affects your wound healing process in numerous ways. For starters, colder weather brings on drier skin, according to the Wound Care Education Institute. You may notice it is common for your lips to be more chapped in the colder months than in the warmer months. This also goes for dryness on the feet that can lead to cracks and open sores.
Along with dry, cracking skin, winter also brings cold and flu season. During these months, your immune system is working hard to fight off all the bacteria that causes these illnesses, which can leave your wound neglected and more prone to infection.
Decreased Blood Circulation
Blood flow is essential to heal all wounds. Colder weather is known to slow down blood flow and worsen circulation of blood. Poor circulation leads to less oxygen to the wound, which makes the wound more susceptible to bacteria and infection. Weakened blood circulation to the lower extremities can also restrict the growth of new tissue around the wound site.
What can You do to Prevent wounds from Worsening during Colder Weather?
Normally during the colder months people tend to “hibernate.” They stay indoors where it is nice and warm and reduce their activity levels. However, if you are someone with a diabetic wound or ulcer you should be sticking with your normal activity levels. Activity keeps your blood circulating and wound healing. When going outside, be sure to keep your wound wrapped (not too tight or it may decrease the blood circulation) and warm, according to the European Wound Management Association. Some good winter activities are indoor yoga or exercises inside your house.
Keep the Wound Well Covered
When dressing your wound during the colder months it is important to keep the wound wrapped, warm and moist. The moisture is essential to the healing process. Since the winter months bring on dryer skin, try talking to your provider about a moisturizer that works best for you and your wound.
Avoid Getting Sick
We know it sounds next to impossible to avoid getting sick, but there are precautions you can take to decrease your likelihood of catching a cold or flu. You can consider getting the flu shot. These shots are given out for free at our FCCI clinics. Ask any staff member about getting yours at your next appointment. You can also try to avoid large crowds or being around people who you know may be sick.