During the wound healing process, it can be difficult for patients to have an idea of how they are coming along besides just how the wound itself feels. One of the easiest and most common indicators of how a wound is healing is by examining the color of the wound.
Wound color can say a lot about the healing process including what stage of the healing process the patient is in as well as the overall health of the wound. Daily wound dressing changes present a perfect opportunity to take a moment to examine the color of the wound.
While shading may vary, wound colors that are important to note typically fall into four categories: red, pink, yellow and black. Here’s what each of these colors mean.
A wound with red tissue is an indication of the formation of granulation tissue. Granulation tissue is firm to the touch, slightly shiny and a sign of healthy would healing. This kind of tissue is rich in collagen, an essential element for skin growth, and gets its reddish color because of the presence of newly formed blood vessels that help promote the growth of new tissue over the wound.
During this stage in wound healing, it is important to protect this tissue by continuing to provide it with a good balance of moisture, a dressing to protect it from physical trauma and bacteria, and the tissue can also benefit from slightly acidic wound care solutions, like Dakin’s.
As a wound continues to heal, the red tissue will transition to a lighter pink color, which is a very good sign for the patient. This pink tissue is known as Epithelial tissue and its formation is an indication that the wound is entering the final stages of healing.
Epithelial tissue is the outer layer of tissue that covers the vital organs and blood vessels throughout the body, including the epidermis – the outmost layer of skin on the body. It is important to continue to protect this layer of tissue until it is completely healed, and you should continue to treat the wounded area as normal until your doctor instructs you otherwise.
A wound that has a pale, greenish-yellow color can be an indication of the formation of Slough tissue, a form of necrotic tissue and a very serious development. Slough formation is an indication that the wound is experiencing arrested development and is stuck in a prolonged inflammatory phase due to a number of reasons.
Because skin growth and healing have been stunted, Slough tissue further opens a window for bacteria and infection to find its way into the wound and make matters worse. If the wound experiences this shade of coloration for a period of time, consult your doctor about the best course of action.
If a wound reaches the point of formation of black or dark, leathery brown tissue, this is an indication of pervasive necrotic tissue and medical assistance needs to be sought immediately. Wounds of this color are an indication of the presence of necrotic tissue known as Eschar, which greatly inhibits the growth and maturation of new skin growth by choking the wound off of oxygen and blood flow, killing the surrounding skin.
Eschar tissue needs to be treated immediately to stop it from progressing to a worse state and possibly even spreading. Contact your physician immediately!