If a person’s wound is healing more slowly than usual, there may be an underlying reason, such as an infection, circulatory problems, diabetes, or other health issues.

There are various reasons why wounds might take longer to heal. In this article, we look at some of the reasons and what to do if a wound is taking a long time to heal.

Here are some reasons why wounds might heal more slowly than a person expects.


One reason why a wound is not healing could be an infection.

Signs of an infection include:

  • redness or discoloration and hotness
  • swelling and inflammation
  • pus oozing
  • yellow scabs
  • fever and other flu-like symptoms, which could indicate a more severe infection such as sepsis

Is it always a bad sign if fluid seeps from a wound?


The body’s cells need oxygen and other nutrients for maintenance and repair. Circulatory problems can mean the blood is not carrying sufficient oxygen or nutrients to the wound site to enable healing.

Oxygen appears to play a role at every stage of the wound healing process. For this reason, some experts have been considering oxygen therapy to help heal wounds. However, there is not enough evidence to confirm this is safe or effective.


A person with nutritional deficits may be missing the nutrients they need to repair skin and other damaged cells in a wound.

Examples of nutrients necessary for effective wound healing include:

  • proteins
  • vitamins A, C, and D
  • minerals such as zinc, selenium, and iron
  • antioxidants of the type present in curcumin, the main ingredient in turmeric

Chronic conditions

Some chronic conditions can affect the way wounds heal.

Examples include:

Doctors are unsure why diabetes and obesity increase the risk of slow wound healing, but inflammation may provide a link. People with diabetes often have circulation issues due to the damage due to high blood sugar levels.

Those with obesity have high levels of fatty tissue. Research suggests that the cells present in this tissue may also contribute.

Learn more


Cancer can affect a person’s immunity, making wounds harder to heal.

Some types of cancer can also cause lesions on the body’s surface that look like sores or wounds. This can occur with skin cancer, breast cancer, and oral cancer. If a person has a lesion that does not heal, they need to speak with a doctor.

Chemotherapy and other treatments

Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and drugs, such as steroids and methotrexate, can affect how the immune system responds.

People who have an organ transplant need drugs, such as tacrolimus and cyclosporine, to stop the body from rejecting the new organ. However, these drugs can also affect wound healing and increase the risk of infections.

Alcohol use

Alcohol consumption can increase the risk of infections and delay wound healing. Possible reasons include a negative effect on skin cell production and the immune system.


Smoking contains nicotine and other toxins. Nicotine can affect the lungs and constrict blood vessels so that less oxygen circulates in the body. Other toxins in tobacco can also interfere with wound healing.

Older age

Older adults may find a wound takes longer to repair than it used to.

Scientists say the inflammatory phase of healing lasts longer with age. There are also higher levels of free radicals, which are toxic byproducts of everyday bodily processes. These factors make it harder for the body to maintain protein levels, so healing takes longer.

Sex hormones

There is some evidence that the hormone estrogen may help regulate wound healing.

More research is necessary, but some experts believe estrogen therapy may have a role in treating wounds that are slow to heal.


Psychological stress may affect the physical process of wound healing.

The authors of a 2012 report noted that people with depression are more likely to experience delayed wound healing than those without the condition. They are also more likely to experience wound infections.

Possible causes include a link between stress and inflammation.

Inadequate wound care

Sometimes, how someone takes care of a wound can affect its recovery.

Tips that can help prevent problems include:

  • resting as appropriate and avoiding straining a wound
  • keeping the wound clean
  • following medical advice on dressings and stitches
  • avoiding touching the wound
  • avoiding the use of alcohol and tobacco

Learn more about taking care of an open wound.

Some home and natural remedies to help wounds heal faster include:

  • dietary measures
  • following medical advice on wound care
  • following the treatment plan for other conditions
  • using natural products with antimicrobial properties, such as honey for skin healing

Learn more tips on speeding up wound healing.

A person needs to seek medical help if they have the following signs and symptoms:

  • a wound that does not start to heal within the expected time range
  • a wound where healing does not progress
  • a wound that seems to worsen or spread
  • redness, discoloration, or swelling that worsens rather than improves
  • a fever or other signs of an infection

When to seek medical treatment for a cut finger.

Here are some questions people often ask about delayed wound healing.

What causes slow wound healing?

Diabetes, an infection in the wound, nutritional deficiencies, and other health issues can cause wounds to heal slowly.

What deficiency causes slow wound healing?

Nutritional deficiencies may contribute to slow wound healing. These include low levels of protein, vitamins A, C, and D, the minerals selenium, iron, and zinc, and antioxidants to combat oxidative stress.

What is too long for a wound to heal?

This will depend on the type and size of the wound. Most wounds, including surgical wounds, heal within 4 to 6 weeks. If healing does not occur within this time, the wound is chronic and needs further medical attention.

When should I be concerned about a wound not healing?

People with certain health conditions, such as diabetes, need to monitor wounds particularly carefully and seek prompt medical help if they have any concerns.

What is primary, secondary, and tertiary wound care?

Wounds that are not healing or take longer to heal than usual may indicate an underlying condition, such as diabetes.

Anyone with concerns about wound healing should seek medical advice, as they may need further tests or treatment.