Heal chronic wounds with fish skin
For minor injuries, it is often sufficient to stick a plaster on the wound. However, chronic wounds cannot be treated that easily. In such cases, a fish skin graft may help in the future. Initial tests with this have been promising.
Home remedies for treating simple wounds
After minor injuries, you are often advised to try salt, because salt water accelerates wound healing. Others rather recommend treating wounds with fresh garlic. And with superficial, slightly oozing and little bleeding wounds, zinc can contribute to better healing. In the case of chronic wounds, such home remedies usually do nothing. A fish skin graft could then help, with which researchers have now achieved promising results.
Treatment requires therapy for the underlying disease
Some wounds are considered chronic from the outset because their treatment requires treatment for the underlying disease.
These include diabetic foot syndrome, wounds in peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAD) or a so-called "open leg" (venous leg ulcer) due to chronic venous insufficiency.
But even an acute wound after an operation or an accident can develop into a chronic wound with an often gradual, protracted course.
"We all know the principle of wound healing," explains the director of the Heart and Diabetes Center (HDZ) North Rhine-Westphalia, Prof. Dr. h.c. Diethelm Tschöpe, in a message.
"Only a wound that heals can heal."
When wounds do not close for weeks and months
Unfortunately, there are wounds in which the healing process is so disrupted that they do not close for weeks or months.
The Heart and Diabetes Center NRW reports on such a case: 81-year-old Manfred Voigt had a problem with an injury that occurred on the foot between the toes. At first it was just a nuisance.
However, the longer it took, the more the open wound affected his quality of life. "The dressing had to be changed every two days, and there was no improvement for months."
Diabetes is very often the cause of impaired wound healing. Due to sensory disturbances (polyneuropathies) wounds are sometimes noticed too late and become infected.
"The longer the wound healing is delayed, the bigger the problem becomes," the senior physicians describe Tania-Cristina Costea and Dr. Katharina Kuczewski the typical course.
Diabetic foot syndrome can result in amputations
The wound healing center of the Diabetes Center at the HDZ NRW, Bad Oeynhausen, also examines, among other things, the biochemical changes that chronic wounds show and that impair healing cell activity in the connective tissue.
In diabetic foot syndrome, this can lead to amputation of individual toes, the forefoot or the joint.
"The number of major amputations is declining, but the number of minor amputations has increased," explains Prof. Tschöpe. The more time passes, the greater the risk of infection and the risk of amputation.
If you suffer from an open wound for more than three months, you should put yourself in the hands of experts.
Facilities that are certified as an outpatient or inpatient wound healing center are of particular help. Manfred Voigt did it after a year. And was very happy that a solution was found after just four weeks.
Fish skin graft has an antibacterial effect
A new therapy with a transplant, which is obtained from fish skin and apparently particularly stimulates the skin cells to grow again, helped him.
The cell-free collagen matrix looks a bit like a crispbread, it is overlapped on the cleaned wound and fixed with a bandage.
Initial research results as well as experience in everyday clinical practice indicate that this type of cell migration and proliferation may be superior to other forms of therapy.
The Scandinavian product comes from the Atlantic cod that lives there. Similar to human skin, the material is interspersed with pores and has an antibacterial effect.
These features, like the omega-3 fatty acids it contains, seem to promote stem cell proliferation and wound healing.
"Further study results have to be awaited," emphasizes Professor Tschöpe, who has so far recorded successful wound closures in all patients treated in the diabetes center, but does not neglect that individual wound assessment is the be-all and end-all of the therapy.
Effects visible after seven days
Which form of treatment is most suitable depends on the type and depth of the wound, the possible underlying disease of the patient, but also on the location of the injury.
"Compared to the ball of the foot or leg, it is more difficult to locate a tissue bridge on the Achilles tendon because there is practically no connective tissue here."
The primary goals of modern wound healing methods are wound closure and limb preservation. There are great advantages in their repeated use, and a combination of different methods is also possible depending on the individual wound situation.
"The first effects of wound healing can usually be seen after seven days when the wound edges start to close."
Quiet and a vacuum bandage often help
In many cases, a lot of rest and a properly applied vacuum bandage help to stimulate blood circulation and relieve the wound. Dead tissue can be cleaned up with maggot therapy, and existing tissue can be stimulated with stem cells.
Cold plasma treatment has been shown to be effective in venous wounds. For Manfred Voigt, the lengthy story with his foot finally came to a good end after almost a year: "Next time I'll go to the specialist!"
Other experts have also come a long way in treating wounds in recent years. For example, Austrian researchers have discovered a biological agent to improve healing of skin wounds.
And a few months ago, scientists from Leipzig and Dresden reported on a newly designed hydrogel that also contributes to better wound healing. (ad)