Slow healing wounds have a higher risk of becoming infected, and this can be particularly serious for people with diabetes.

Causes of delayed wound healing

High blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) is one of the reasons why wounds may take longer to heal. Other factors linked with slower wound healing include:

  • Arterial and vascular diseases
  • Stress
  • Jaundice
  • Medications including corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin

When to see your doctor

Wounds that take a long time to heal are at higher risk of becoming infected. If a wound is taking longer than normal to heal, arrange to see your doctor.

You should also see your doctor if any signs of infection are present, including:

  • Swelling
  • Pus
  • Skin that feels warm to the touch
  • Reddening (if white skinned), darkening (if brown or black skinned)
  • Having a high temperature (above 38 degrees Celsius)
  • Feeling lethargic and unwell

See other possible symptoms of diabetes

Protecting against infection

A wound can be protected from infection in the following ways:

  • Cleaning the wound with warm but not hot water
  • Using a sterile wound dressing or bandage to cover the wound
  • Cleaning the wound and change the dressing each day

Diabetes and foot wounds

People with diabetes need to treat foot wounds with extra care. If you have diabetes, check your
feet each day for any signs of changes or damage of your feet and notify your doctor if there any changes.

This is important as a common diabetes complication is neuropathy which leads to reduced sensation in the nerves of the feet and so damage may not necessarily be felt. A consequence of this is that extra damage can be done to the foot which further raises the risk of infection.

A number of amputations are carried out each year as a result of infected foot wounds in people with diabetes.