Wound healing disorders are often due to bacterial infections. If the skin barrier is intact, pathogens cannot penetrate the body. With wounds, however, this protective layer is damaged. Skin germs such as Staphylococcus aureus can then spread unhindered. As a rule, the bacterium only causes harmless skin infections, but once it has entered the body it can lead to problems such as purulent inflammation and even blood poisoning. It can also adapt well to its environment and dangers. Antibiotics only have a limited effect on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus – also known as the hospital germ MRSA.
A surface protein in focus
Researchers from the SkinStaph network of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research have examined the bacterium more closely. They noticed a special surface protein. This extracellular adhesive protein (short: Eap) is said to be capable of more than the hitherto known function of attachment to skin cells. It should also be responsible for the penetration of the bacteria into the interior of the cells and specifically prevent the formation of new blood vessels and skin cells that are necessary for healing. In addition, it is able to inhibit protein-splitting enzymes (proteases), which are necessary for the immune system. These effects together not only actively complicate the wound healing process, but can also cause infections there.1 You can find out how to recognize an infected wound in the video here:
However, the discovery also offers new possibilities and may in future be used for diseases in which an excess immune response takes place, according to Prof. Hartmann from the research team.1
What to do with infected wounds?
If an infection occurs in a wound, the first step should be to remove necrosis and plaque using debridement or biosurgery (maggot therapy). The debridement can be surgical, autolytic or mechanical. In principle, it is advisable to surgically remove thick necroses and deposits and to treat thinner deposits with autolysis. The wound can then be treated with wound antiseptics, rinsing solutions, etc. Depending on the severity of the infection, systemic antibiotics should also be considered. Last but not least, a physiological bandage is used according to the criteria of modern wound management, which is intended to further promote wound healing.2
- Why infected wounds do not heal – The tricks of the bacteria, Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Newsletter 72, 02/2015, URL: https://www.gesundheitsforschung-bmbf.de/de/warum-infekte-wounds-nicht-heilen- die-tricks-der-bakterien-2809.php, last accessed on 07/05/2022.
- Wound expert course ICW/ TÜV. Hospital of the Brothers of Mercy, Trier. educational institute. 03/07/22 – 05/05/2022, URL: https://www.bk-trier.de/media-bkt/docs/Bildung/Handouts-Wundmanagement/Die-infekte-Wunde.pdf, last accessed on 07/18/2022.