Have you ever been to your health care provider and struggled to understand what exactly your doctor is explaining? While you shouldn’t hesitate to ask them to translate medical terms into everyday language, it also helps to have a general understanding of the words and phrases you’re likely to hear at health care facilities. That way, you’ll feel more involved in the care process – and more confident in your ability to follow the doctor’s orders.

When it comes to wound care, here are the terms you should know:

doctor wrapping patient woundUnderstanding wound terminology can help patients understand diagnosis and treatment.

Acute wound

This type of wound happens suddenly rather than over time. Acute wounds follow an expected rate of healing that eventually leads to closure and recovery of the affected skin – but may require controlled medical prevention to support the process. Examples include scrapes, incisions, punctures and surgical wounds caused by medical operations.

Chronic wound

When skin injuries fail to heal normally, the wounds become chronic. Often times, this means the wound is stuck in a stage of healing, unable to continue because of complications like inflammation or infection.


This is fluid that accumulates in a wound. In a guide to wound terms and definitions, the World Council of Enterostomal Therapists defined the following exudate descriptors:

  • Sanguineous: Bloody.
  • Serous: Clear or pale yellow.
  • Serosanguineous: Serous with hints of blood.
  • Purulent: Green, brown or yellow pus.
  • Scant: Tiny amount of fluid noticed when changing dressing.
  • Minimal: Exudate is present on about one-third of dressing surface.
  • Moderate: Exudate covers less than two-thirds of dressing surface and may soak through.
  • Large: Exudate covers more than two-thirds of dressing surface and likely soaks through.


When the skin is exposed to excessive moisture, the surface begins to soften and break down, forming a maceration.

Risk factor

Some patients have qualities that may increase their susceptibility to a particular wound, complication or condition, such as people with diabetes.

Skin tear

This wound occurs when shearing, friction or trauma causes a separation of skin layers. Skin tears can be partial- or full-thickness.

Surgical site infection (SSI)

This complication occurs after a medical procedure, causing the surgical wound, tissue or nearby organ space to become infected.

Wound bed

The bed is the base of the wound, often tissue that contains viable cells. Wound Source further defined terms you may hear relative to wound bed preparation here.

In the event that you are injured and need to follow a specified treatment plan, ask your doctor about Innovative Outcomes iPAK. Coupled with your new knowledge, our innovative delivery of wound care supplies makes following your recovery plan as simple as possible.