Wound Care Center
St. Louise Regional Hospital
The Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at St. Louise Regional Hospital offers comprehensive treatment to help you heal a problem wound. A problem wound is one that has not started to heal in 2 weeks or completely healed in 6 weeks.
When you come to our center, you will find:
- Advanced treatment: Our center uses advanced technology to promote wound healing, including hyperbaric oxygen treatment, sophisticated wound dressings and bioengineered tissues.
- Expert staff: The professionals at St. Louise have extensive experience in providing specialized, comprehensive treatment for problem wounds.
- Personalized wound care: Our center works with your regular physician to coordinate your care.
Wounds We Treat
Our center treats all types of acute and chronic wounds, including:
- Pressure ulcers or bedsores
- Diabetic neuropathic ulcers
- Venous insufficiency ulcers due to poor vascular function
- Arterial insufficiency ulcers or ischemic wounds from peripheral artery disease (PAD)
- Surgical wounds and radiation injuries
- Moisture-related dermatitis, such as due to incontinence
- Traumatic injuries and minor burns
You should go to a trauma or burn center first to get evaluation for:
- Facial burns
- Wounds or burns threatening the function of limbs, hands or feet
Experienced Wound Care Specialists
The Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine works with your physician to provide advanced treatment for problem wounds.
Our team of professionals includes:
- Physicians with advanced training in wound management
- Nursing staff trained in the care of chronic wounds
- Technicians who perform noninvasive studies and therapies
- Experienced staff to assist with appointments, medical records and insurance processing
Advanced Wound Treatments
Our center provides expert treatment based on the latest scientific and technological advances in wound care.
Treatments available at the Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine include:
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which uses pure oxygen to stimulate healing
- Sophisticated dressings such as negative pressure wound therapy (vacuum dressing)
- Bioengineered tissues and growth factors designed to help your body heal itself
- Debridement to remove dead tissue and wound cultures to test for infection
- Measurement of blood flow and glucose levels to ensure the right conditions for healing
- Compression therapy to decrease swelling
- Creative off-loading techniques such as using a special pillow or bed to reduce pressure on the wound
What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment?
Hyperbaric oxygen treatment is an outpatient treatment that involves breathing pure oxygen inside a pressurized chamber. This innovative treatment delivers high concentrations of oxygen to the bloodstream to promote healing and fight infection. It also stimulates the growth of new blood vessels and improves circulation.
Our wound care specialists design personalized hyperbaric oxygen treatment plans based on your diagnosis.
We use hyperbaric oxygen treatment for a variety of conditions, such as:
- Crush injuries and acute traumatic injuries
- Necrotizing soft tissue infections
- Osteomyelitis (bone infection)
- Radiation tissue damage
- Skin grafts and flaps
- Diabetic wounds to legs and feet
Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment: What to Expect
Before starting treatment, you will need to complete an initial consultation and examination. We encourage you to ask our staff about any questions you have.
Here is what you can expect before, during and after treatment:
- When you arrive: You will receive complete instructions on arrival. You will change into a cotton garment. No other clothing may be worn inside the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. The staff will check your blood sugar before, during and after each treatment to make sure it is not too low, which can affect brain functioning.
- During your treatment: Once you are inside the chamber, medical staff will gradually increase the pressure. The temperature will also rise temporarily. You may experience fullness in your ears. The technician will provide tips for relieving any discomfort. Treatment sessions last about 2 hours, during which time you can watch TV, relax or even sleep.
- After your treatment: It is normal to experience fatigue while undergoing a course of treatment. You may also experience temporary vision changes that should return to normal after you complete treatment. We recommend that you do not change your eyewear prescription during treatment.
Please inform the staff if you have a cold or cough, the flu, sore throat, chills, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. You should also tell the staff which medicines you take and alert them to any changes in medication during your treatment. Diabetic patients should eat properly and take prescribed medication to control blood sugar.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Guidelines
If your doctor prescribes hyperbaric oxygen treatment, we ask that you follow certain safety guidelines to ensure effective treatment.
We ask that you do not wear the following items during treatment:
- Makeup and perfume
- Nail polish
- Hairspray and hair oils
- Wigs and hairpieces
- Hearing aids
You are also not allowed to bring certain items into the chamber, including:
- Alcohol and petroleum-based products
- Cell phones and pagers
- Metallic items such as jewelry, titanium eyeglasses frames, keys, watches and coins
- Flammable materials or heat-producing items like heating pads, lighters and cigarettes
- Food, gum or candy
Ask your hyperbaric physician about wearing contact lenses during treatment. You should also avoid smoking or using any tobacco products for your entire course of treatment. Tobacco use prevents wounds from healing because it constricts blood vessels in your body and deprives wounds of oxygen.
Problem wounds are often painful, and physicians specializing in wound care can help prevent or relieve this pain. Your doctor will decide which pain control option is best for you. Always keep a record of your pain medication and its effectiveness so you can discuss with your doctor.
Medications may include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These drugs include ibuprofen and aspirin and are effective at treating pain caused by inflammation.
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol®): Acetaminophen is gentler on the stomach. It is good for minor aches and pains and sometimes works for pain where NSAIDs are ineffective.
- Narcotics: Narcotic or opioid pain relievers work by blocking the pain signal that travels to the brain. You should always take narcotic pain relievers sparingly, as taking them at all carries a significant risk of addiction.
- Natural remedies: Treatments such as meditation, counseling, hypnosis and massage therapy can relieve pain naturally.
How to Change Your Dressing
Covering your wound helps keep it clean and avoid infection. Your wound care nurse will show you how to properly care for your wound, including dressing changes. You should change your dressing anytime it gets dirty or wet, or as directed by our center’s staff.
To change your dressing you should:
- Gather the supplies you need, including:
- Wound cleanser
- Trash bag
- Hand washing supplies
- Disposable gloves
- Wash your hands with soap and water before and after dressing changes.
- Wear gloves while you change your dressing.
- Carefully remove your dressing and place the old one in a sealed bag for disposal.
- Clean your wound.
- Examine your wound carefully for foul odors, changes in color or amount of drainage, redness or swelling. Report any of these signs to your physician right away.
- Put on a new dressing as directed by your wound care physician.
- Gather the supplies you need, including:
Helping Your Wound Heal
You can take steps to ensure that your wounds can heal effectively.
Proper wound care procedures include:
- Keep the outside of your dressing clean and dry. If it becomes soiled or wet, change it as soon as possible.
- Keep your body clean. Bathe daily with soap and water, changing the dressing after each bath or shower.
- Eat a balanced diet to help your body heal. Follow any dietary or fluid restrictions your doctor recommends.
- Carefully examine your wound every time you remove your dressing. Report any changes to your physician, including bad odors, swelling or redness.
When to Call Your Physician
Call your physician immediately if you experience:
- Increased pain at the wound site
- Redness or swelling around the wound or spreading away from the wound
- Foul odor coming from the wound
- Change in color or amount of drainage from the wound
- Fever and chills
- Nausea or vomiting
Should I let my wound be open to air?
No. Wound healing occurs best when the wound is moist, and healing cells can get close to the wound. Specialized dressings maintain just the right amount of moisture, while also protecting your wound from contamination.
What if I forget to change my dressing?
Change your dressing as soon as you remember. Be careful when removing the old dressing in case it is stuck to the wound. If it is stuck, use enough water to soak it off without causing pain. Redress your wound as directed by your doctor.
Can I use a whirlpool to clean my wound?
No. Water under pressure can drive bacteria (germs) into the wound tissue. We do not recommend using a whirlpool on a regular basis.
If I get dry skin, can I use lotion?
Yes, but do not put lotion in or on the wound. If your skin has broken open, ask your doctor for a product that can help.
What kind of skin lotion does the center suggest?
We suggest any kind of lotion that is an emollient, which puts moisture back into the skin instead of just covering it. Do not use petroleum jelly.
Examples of emollients include:
- A&D® Ointment
- Curel® Moisturizing
- Eucerin® Moisturizing
- Keri® Lotion
- Vitamins A and D
Will the sun's rays or a sun lamp help my skin?
No. They will dry out the wound bed, and the goal is to keep your wound moist. Ultraviolet (UV) rays can also burn your skin and cause other problems.
What does it mean if an area of my skin changes color?
Some skin changes are not harmful but others, such as redness, may signs of a problem. Inspect the skin around the wound daily for any changes. Promptly show any changes, especially redness, to your healthcare provider.
Can I use Betadine® or hydrogen peroxide on my wound?
No. Our center does not recommend using these solutions, which can kill healthy cells.
What are important considerations if I am diabetic?
It is very important to keep your blood sugar under control because high blood sugar can slow or prevent wound healing. Discuss your blood sugar goals with your wound care doctor.
What do I need to report to my wound care physician?
You should inform your doctor about issues such as:
- Pain or increased drainage from your wound
- High blood sugar (if you are diabetic)
- Redness in the skin around your wound
- Bleeding from your wound
- Changes in your body temperature, blood pressure or mental orientation
- Need for dressing supplies or difficulty completing prescribed dressing changes
- Any new wounds you find on your body
- Any changes in the medications you take
Contact UsFor more information about our services or to make an appointment, call the Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at (408) 848-4949.
We offer additional resources where you can find more information on wound care. You may need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these files.
Additional resources include:
Did You Know
Hyperbaric oxygen treatment is an advanced wound care therapy that delivers high concentrations of oxygen to promote healing and fight infection. St. Louise offers hyperbaric oxygen treatment, as well as advanced dressings and growth factors to help your body heal.