Difficult wounds: An update

Richard F. Edlich, Kathryne L. Winters, L. D. Britt, William B. Long, K. Dean Gubler, David B. Drake

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The purpose of this collective review is to describe revolutionary advances in the treatment of Gardner's syndrome (GS), pseudofolliculitis barbae, nasal septal perforation, factitious wounds, and hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). Gardner's syndrome or familial polyposis has various manifestations that appear to be controlled by a single genetic locus. Apart from the large bowel adenomas, which are always present, a common extracolonic symptom of Gardner's syndrome is the ocurrance of epidermal cysts. These cysts can be seen before the intestinal polyps are evident. Because epidermal cysts in patients with Gardner's syndrome are always benign, we excise these cysts using incisions that are commonly used for rhytidectomy. Pseudofolliculitis barbae, a pseudofolliculitis caused by ingrown hairs, effects 85% of blacks who shave their beards. When this disease is allowed to progress to keloid formation, we use a surgical approach that includes excision of the keloidal scar, meticulous debridement of all residual ingrown hairs in the underlying wound, and coverage of the defect with a split-thickness skin graft. More recently, laser therapy has revolutionized the treatment of pseudofolliculitis barbae and has enabled a cure for the first time for those plagued with this disorder and for whom a beardless face is acceptable. Nasal septal perforation is a well recognized complication of septal surgery. Other iatrogenic causes of perforation include cryosurgery, electrocoagulation for epitaxis, nasotracheal intubation, or nose packing. In recent years drugs such as cocaine account for an increasing number of perforations. It has only been with the use of an external approach for the repair of the nasal septal defect that surgical closure has become easier and more reliable. The external approach allows for greater surgical closure and enables the surgeon to use both hands with the aid of binocular vision to mobilize and suture local mucosal advancement flaps and the intraseptal connective tissue grafts. More recently, surgeons have repaired large septal perforations with a radial forearm free flap. Because of its availability and deep emotional significance, the skin is a common site for self-destructive behavior with the development of factitious skin wounds. When suspected, psychiatric care must proceed immediately. Second, the ulcer can then be healed by appropriate techniques and wound repair. It is important to emphasize that the treating physician must first confront the patient, and then a psychiatrist should provide appropriate psychotherapy. Hidradenitis suppurativa is an inflammatory disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue that occurs in apocrine-gland-bearing areas distributed in the axilla, mammary nipple areola, mons pubis, groin, scrotum, perineum, perianal region, and umbilicus. The condition has an insidious onset. The susceptibility of women's axillary skin to hidradenitis suppurativa may be related, in part, to the practice of axillary removal of hair with a safety razor. Consequently, the use of safety razors must be avoided and replaced with the use of an electric razor. The method of treatment will vary with the stage of the disease. Treatment of the chronic stage of axillary hidradenitis suppurativa is primarily surgical. More recently, carbon dioxide laser treatment, with healing by secondary intention, is proving to be a rapid, efficient, and economic treatment of this difficult wound.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-302
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2005


  • Factitious wounds
  • Gardner's syndrome
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa
  • Nasal septal perforation
  • Pseudofolliculitis barbae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Dentistry


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