Nutrition and Wound Healing – Introduction

Wound care has been revolutionized over recent years by numerous advances in wound care products and techniques, making this currently one of the most dynamic areas of health care. However, when considering the advances of recent years, and the number of innovations in development, it can be easy to overlook the fundamentals of wound care such as the importance of basic techniques, underlying patient health, and adequate nutrition.

Advanced Innovation Still Relies on Nutrition

A patient is unlikely to respond to even the most advanced wound care innovation if he is poorly nourished or dehydrated, particularly in the case of a chronic wound.14 Ensuring adequate hydration and nutrition is one of the most basic parts of a wound care professionals’ role, and should be among the first issues to be tackled.

Nutrition & Wound Healing

Nutrition is fundamental to normal cellular integrity and tissue repair.1 All phases of wound healing require nutrients, while clinical and subclinical malnutrition can impair all aspects of wound healing.2 A number of specific nutrients are essential to effective wound management including:3

  • Water
  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fat
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals.


Signs of malnutrition include loss of subcutaneous fat, listlessness, muscle wasting, and the presence of peripheral edema in the absence of cardiac disease or circulatory disorder. Dull, dry, sparse hair can be a possible sign of protein deficiency.2

Next week we will review the specific properties of nutrients that help contribute to wound healing as well as wound prevention. In subsequent weeks, we will consider methods of assessing nutritional status as well as nutritional interventions that may be introduced to promote wound healing.

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  1. Stotts NA. Nutritional assessment and support. In: Bryant RA and Nix DP. Acute and chronic wounds. Current management concepts. 3rd ed. St Louis, Missouri; Mosby Elsevier; 2007.
  2. Posthauer ME, Thomas DR. Nutrition and wound care. In: Baranoski S, Ayello EA, eds. Wound Care Essentials: Practice Principles. 2nd Edition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Ambler PA. 2008.
  3. Myers BA. Wound management principles and practice. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson; 2008.
  4. Posthauer ME. Nutritional assessment and treatment. In: Sussman C and Bates-Jensen B. Wound Care: A Collaborative Practice Manual for Health Professionals. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2007.

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