Considering how much weight is constantly put on your feet, it’s important to keep them safe and healthy. If you develop a foot wound, you want to ensure a swift and effective healing process. A qualified podiatrist can help determine the right treatment options for your foot condition and help you avoid complications such as dangerous infections.
How Your Foot Wound Healing Should Progress
Because there are so many possible foot injuries, there are no hard and fast rules about recovery time. While most wounds should start to look better after a week and reach maximum recovery in months, that isn’t always the case.
Rather than expect to meet a specific time frame, you should instead look at the main stages of healing to indicate where you are in the recovery process. If these stages don’t change for the better over time, that's a sign you should visit an experienced podiatrist for a diagnosis and treatment plan. The main stages of foot healing include:
- Stage 1 – Hemostasis. After sustaining a wound, your body’s first task is to staunch the bleeding by forming a clot. Hemostasis usually only takes a short time, typically within just a few minutes. If a foot wound bleeds continuously without stopping, you should see a doctor immediately.
- Stage 2 – Inflammation. After blood clotting, your body’s next move is to use white blood cells to clean out germs and prevent infection. Inflammation is a byproduct of the process and may involve pain, red skin coloration, swelling, and tenderness. Those symptoms should go away naturally within a week. In some cases, inflammation remains far longer and needs to be addressed with at-home treatment such as ice packs or even with prescription medication.
- Stage 3 – Proliferation and growth. At this point, your body begins replicating cells to replace damaged tissue. You can tell this stage is progressing as expected if you see new tissue that’s pinkish or reddish. If the new tissue is much darker than your previous skin tone, you should see a podiatrist to check for potential problems.
- Stage 4 – Strengthening and maturation. When the new tissue is in place, the final stage involves improving the flexibility and strength of the wounded area. Any coloration of the scar tissue usually fades and becomes less pronounced at this time. Skin tissue around the affected area may also appear slightly stretched after this final stage.
There are other important warning signs to look for during wound recovery that indicate healing isn’t progressing well. You should contact a podiatrist quickly if you notice an unpleasant odor from the wound, any sort of ooze or pus discharge, or pain and inflammation that doesn’t go away.
While it's important for any patient with a foot wound to watch for problems, it’s especially essential for diabetic patients who may deal with more severe foot issues.
Options for Treatment if Your Foot Wound Isn’t Healing Quickly
Under normal conditions, healing should proceed from stage one through stage four over a matter of months. However, there can always be problems and complications.
If your body can’t provide sufficient oxygen or blood supply to the affected area, each stage may take significantly longer or never happen at all. The good news is that there are a number of potential treatments available to help with these problems. For the least pain and most efficient healing process, you may need to utilize:
- At-home wound care techniques such as antibacterial creams, compression, elevation, and rest
- Biologic treatments such as biomembranes, scaffold materials, and skin substitutes
- Custom orthotics to prevent pressure on injured or swollen areas
- Laser therapy