The Distinction Between Acute And Chronic Wounds

By September 27, 2019Wound Care
Chronic Wounds Reading Time: 3 minutes

The healing of an acute wound is vastly different from that of a chronic wound for a number of reasons. Knowing what type of wound you are dealing with is the first step in knowing what to do to help your body with its healing process.

What Is The Difference Between Acute & Chronic Wounds?

The primary distinguishing factor between these two types of wounds is that acute wounds will progress through the normal stages of healing, while chronic wounds will not. If untreated, chronic wounds can result in further complications including infection, which causes inflammation and pain.

Acute Wounds

A wound is considered acute if follows a rate of healing that is expected, regardless of the severity of the injury. Acute injuries include abrasions, incisions, burns, lacerations, and puncture wounds.

  • Causes

    Acute wounds are created when the skin and underlying tissue becomes damaged. For example, abrasions are caused by scraping the skin against a rough surface, and lacerations are caused when the skin is torn in an irregular or jagged fashion.

  • Symptoms

    Acute wounds have varying signs and symptoms, the most common being:

    • Cuts, tears, or gashes in the skin
    • Bleeding
    • Redness or tenderness surrounding the wound
    • Swelling
    • Pain and difficulty moving the area surrounding the wound
    • Fever
  • Treatment

    Treating acute wounds will depend on the severity and placement of the wound, as well as how long you’ve had the wound. Your doctor may prescribe any combination of the following:

    • NSAIDs – decrease pain, fever, and swelling
    • Acetaminophen – decrease pain and fever
    • Antibiotics – prevent or treat bacterial infections
    • A Td Vaccine – booster shot, prevents diphtheria and tetanus

    Your doctor will remove any dead tissue in the wound bed that will potentially stall your healing.

Chronic Wounds

Chronic wounds occur when there is no significant healing of an injury for about four weeks. All acute wounds can progress into chronic wounds and will require further medical attention to remove the wound from its stalled state.

Chronic wounds progress and can be difficult to heal. Some factors that affect the severity of a wound include pressure, trauma and swelling.

    • Causes

      Chronic wounds can progress from acute wounds for several reasons, including:

      • Pressure on or around the wound
      • Untreated increased exposure to bacteria or trauma
      • Insufficient hygiene and wound care
      • Incorrect/inappropriate treatment
      • Poorly performed procedures
      • Insufficient blood supply, nutrients, oxygen

      Infection is the largest cause of the progression of acute wounds into a chronic state, so it is important to avoid infections during wound treatment.

    • Symptoms

      Chronic wounds will heal slower than is expected or they will not heal at all. Other signs of chronic wounds include increased inflammation and pain in the area of the wound.


  • Treatment

    Usually, the first step in healing a chronic wound is to address the cause. Your medical provider will treat any infections that are present so that unwanted bacteria cannot continue to slow down wound healing.

    Chronic wound treatment typically requires a unique treatment plan, which can consist of any combination of the following:

    • Cleaning – thorough, regular cleaning of the wound and surrounding area prevent infection
    • Removal of Dead Tissue (Debridement) – prevents healing from being stalled by dead cells
    • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) – helps speed the healing process by increasing the oxygen concentration of the blood and tissues
    • Wound Dressing – films, gauze and specialty dressings help remove excess fluid from the wound, as well as prevent infection from exposure to harmful bacteria
    • Antibiotics – prevents or treats bacterial infections
    • Skin Substitutes – used when the wound is unable to close on its own

Understanding the nature of your wound will help you know why the healing process takes the time that it does, why you have to take the medication you’ve been prescribed, as well as what to expect as your healing progresses. Contact us at RegenQuest on 954-571-9392 to find out more about chronic wound healing and care of your wound and set up an appointment to get your treatment plan.