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Common Wound Care Terminology Cheat Sheet by

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Amor­pho­us: Without a clear shape as in a wound dressing in gel form
Anti­mic­rob­ial: An agent that inhibits the growth of bacteria
Arterial Ulcer: Related to the presence of arterial occlusive disease. Presenting symptoms mainly involve pain and tissue loss.
Auto­lytic Debrid­eme­nt: Removal of devita­lized tissue through normal wound exudate or through the use of any topical dressing or prepar­ation that encourages moisture retention or by the body’s own mechanisms
Beds­ore: The tradit­ional name for a pressure ulcer. Also called a decubitus ulcer.
Beefy Red: A term used to describe a healthy looking wound with good blood supply
Blan­chi­ng: To become white with pressure
Bioc­omp­ati­ble: refers to the ability of a product to perform its desired function without eliciting any undesi­rable effects
Cell­uli­tis: Inflam­mation of tissue charac­terized by redness. Signifies a spreading infection.
Chemical Debrid­eme­nt: The removal of dead or devita­lized tissue by using enzymatic debriding agents.
Chronic Wound: A wound that takes longer than normal to heal due to underlying conditions such as pressure, diabetes, poor circul­ation, immune defici­encies or infection.
Cont­rac­tion: The pulling together of wound edges/­margins in the healing process.
CWOCN: Same as “ET Nurse” (Certified wound, ostomy, continence nurse).
CWS: Certified Wound Specialist
Debr­ide: to remove dead or devita­lized tissue
Debr­ide­ment: Removal of dead or devita­lized tissue.
Decu­bitus Ulcer: The Latin term for a pressure ulcer. (Sometimes referred to as a “decub.”)
Dehi­sced: Describes a surgical wound which has broken open or is not healing properly
Denu­ded: Loss of epidermis.
Depth: Distance from the wound’s surface downward. The last measur­ement in wound descri­ption in centim­eters.
Derm­is: The second layer of skin that contains hair follicles, sweat glands, sebaceous glands, blood vessels and lymph vessels: involved in stage 2, 3, and 4 pressure ulcers as well as partial and full thickness wounds.
Edema: Observable swelling from fluid accumu­lation in body tissues
Ente­ros­tomal Therapy Nurse or Certified Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nurse : Often referred to as “ET nurse.” Nurse who provides Care expertise to patients with abdominal stomas, draining wounds and fistulas, incont­inence and general wound care.
Epid­erm­is: The outer cellular layer of the skin
Epib­oly: edges of the top layer of the epidermis roll down to cover lower edge of epidermis, causing the inability of epithelial cells to migrate from wound edges. Wound healing cannot take place in this circum­stance.
Epit­hel­ial­ization : Regene­ration of the epidermis across a wound surface
Eryt­hema: Redness of the skin surface produced by widening of the blood vessels.
Esch­ar: Thick, leathery dead or devita­lized tissue.
Etio­logy: The science and study of the causes of diseases and their mode of operation.
ET nurse: Commonly used term for an Entero­stomal Therapy Nurse.
Exco­ria­tion: Linear scratches on the skin.
Exud­ate: Accumu­lation of fluids in a wound.


Fene­str­ated: sliced or cut open
Fibr­ous­Tis­sue: Tightly bound yellow film found on the granul­ation tissue surface composed of or containing fibrob­lasts
Fria­ble: refers to a delicate wound that may bleed easily
Fric­tion: Surface damage caused by skin rubbing against another surface.
Full Thickness Wound: Tissue destru­ction extending through the dermis to involve subcut­aneous tissue and possibly muscle­/bone.
Gran­ulation Tissue: The formation or growth of small blood vessels and connective tissue in a full thickness wound and a stage 3 and 4 pressure ulcer: beefy red, shiny, granular tissue which generally indicates healing.
Growth Factors: refers to naturally occurring substances capable of stimul­ating cellular growth and prolif­eration
Hydr­oph­ilic: Attracting moisture
Hydr­oac­tive: Activated by moisture
Hype­rto­nic: movement of water from a high H2O concen­tration inside the cell, to a low H2O concen­tration outside the cell. Hypertonic wound dressings pull water or exudate out of an area and create a moist enviro­nment that is more conducive to wound healing.
Hype­rgr­anu­lat­ion: Increased thickness in the granular layer of the epidermis.
Ionic exchan­ge: Denotes the processes of purifi­cation, separa­tion, and decont­ami­nation.
Infe­cti­on: Overgrowth of microo­rga­nisms capable of tissue destru­ction and invasion, accomp­anied by local or systemic symptoms
Infl­amm­ati­on: Defensive reaction to tissue injury: involves increased blood flow and capillary permea­bility Signs and symptoms include heat, redness, swelling and pain of the affected area.
Infl­amm­atory Phase: The first phase in the normal wound healing process that lasts approx­imately from time of the initial injury to four days post injury.
Isch­emia: A deficiency of blood supply due to functional constr­iction or obstru­ction of a blood vessel.
Mace­rat­ion: A “water­logged” appearance of the area surrou­nding a wound which is an indication of excessive moisture or an inappr­opriate dressing or dressing applic­ation.
Macr­oph­age: “Giant Eater:” eats up unwanted dead tissue, cleans the wound and releases chemicals.
Mech­anical Debrid­eme­nt: The removal of dead or devita­lized tissue, for example by the use of wet:­to:­dry dressings, whirlpool or surgical debrid­ement.
Moisture Retentive Dressi­ngs: Dressings that allow wounds to remain moist.
MMP’s: Enzymes in chronic wounds which when imbalanced with their natural inhibitors can become destru­ctive and delay the healing process.
Necr­otic: Dead
Negative pressu­re: a vacuum­:**­action that is used to reduce pressure around a wound, drawing out excess fluids and cellular wastes.
Nono­ccl­usi­ve: Allowing the passage of moisture and air
Occl­usi­ve: A dressing that prevent the passage of air that can dry out a wound bed or to prevent unwanted or unneeded moisture from going into or out of an area.
Osmo­tic: relating to osmosis: a physical process in which a solvent moves, without input of energy, across a semi:**­pe­rmeable membrane. This term relates to movement of wound fluid from one place to another.
Oste­omy­eli­tis: Inflam­mation of the bone marrow and adjacent bone.
Partial Thickness Wound : Tissue destru­ction through the epidermis extending into but not through the dermis.
Peri­wou­nd: Around the wound
Perm­eab­ili­ty: Ability to pass through
Pressure Ulcer: An area of localized damage caused by ischemia due to pressure.
Sero­us: Producting a serous secretion or containing serum
Sinus tract: A pathway which can extend in any direction from the wound surface resulting in dead space
Sodium Hypoch­lor­ite: a chemical compound frequently used as a disinf­ecting agent
Slou­gh: Necrotic tissue that is usually loose, stringy, yellow, tan, white or gray in color.
Shear: Trauma caused by tissue layers sliding against each other.
Stas­is: Stagnation of blood caused by venous conges­tion.
Stag­ing: An anatomical descri­ption of depth used to describe pressure ulcers.
Surgical Debrid­eme­nt: The removal of dead or devita­lized tissue by a physician or trained healthcare profes­sional at the bedside or in the operating room.
Tunn­eli­ng: Tissue destru­ction underlying intact skin along wound margins.
Ulcer: An open lesion or sore
Unde­rmi­ning: Another term used to describe tunnel­ing: tissue destru­ction underlying intact skin along wound margins
Vaso­con­str­ict­ion: Dilation of blood vessels
Vaso­dil­ation Dilation of blood vessels
Venous : pertaining to the veins.
Venous Ulcer: Local losses of epidermis and variable levels of dermis and subcut­aneous tissue occuring over or near the ankle and/or lateral lower leg.
WOCN: An acronym for Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nurse

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