News

New Portable Ozone Therapy System Helps Treat Chronic Wounds

A new wound care device.

Purdue University / DeEtte Starr 

Key Takeaways

  • A team of researchers created a portable system that treats chronic wounds via ozone therapy.  
  • About 6.5 million people in the U.S. live with chronic wounds.
  • Certain pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, can lead to chronic wounds. 
  • If not adequately treated, these wounds can have dangerous consequences, like infection.

Roughly 6.5 million people in the U.S. live with chronic skin wounds, which are often difficult to treat. But on September 3, Purdue University researchers announced the development of a portable wound care system for people who suffer from antibiotic-resistant chronic wounds.

Because chronic wounds on the skin are prone to bacterial infections, they often don't heal very quickly. Although antibiotics are prescribed for wound infections, some bacteria become resistant to antibiotic therapy. For this reason, the Purdue team created an alternative treatment option.

“We created a revolutionary type of treatment to kill the bacteria on the surface of the wound or diabetic ulcer and accelerate the healing process,” Rahim Rahimi, PhD, one of the device's creators and an assistant professor of materials engineering at Purdue University in Indiana, stated in a press release.

The new device is portable, making it a potentially simpler treatment option for patients with chronic wounds. And in order to function, the device instills the help of something called ozone therapy.

What This Means For You

If you or a loved one has a wound that is not healing properly, it may be chronic. A chronic wound can be painful and dangerous, especially if it is infected. Speak to your doctor so they can help you determine a treatment plan. The portable wound care system developed by the Purdue team may provide another viable treatment option in the future.

What Is Ozone Therapy?

Ozone is a colorless gas composed of oxygen. The Purdue team’s study, published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, found that applying ozone topically not only destroys wound bacteria, but also helps increase oxygen delivery to the wound, accelerating the healing process.

Notably, the FDA doesn’t support the use of ozone therapy. In 2019, the administration considered ozone a toxic gas with no useful medical applications. However, a 2019 study concluded that, for diabetic foot ulcers, ozone therapy significantly reduced healing time versus routine diabetic foot care.

Usually, patients travel to a clinic to receive ozone therapy. However, this newly-developed treatment opens the possibility of receiving ozone therapy at home.

How Does the Device Work?

The researchers created a wound care device built on three main components:

  • A wound patch made of synthetic, permeable Rayon-Spandex knit fabric
  • A reusable, battery-powered device
  • A cord—connected from the patch to the device—that delivers the ozone therapy to the wound care site

After six hours of ozone therapy, the researchers saw greater than 70% reduction in S. epidermidis, a common antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria. They also found that the treatment completely eliminated P. aeruginosa, another common bacteria, without causing any damage to surrounding tissue.

How Are Chronic Wounds Usually Treated?

“First, it is important to determine the underlying cause of why the wound is not healing,” Azure Adkins, MD, a general surgeon at Austin Regional Clinic in Texas, tells Verywell.

She says once the cause is determined, such as an infection or poor blood flow, there may need to be changes made, such as:

  • Starting or changing antibiotics
  • Controlling blood sugar levels
  • Getting a vascular procedure to improve blood flow to the wound

Sometimes, the wound care itself may be the problem. In this case, family and caregiver support is crucial. “For patients who live alone and have little mobility, it may be important for a home health nurse or a clinic to perform dressing changes more consistently to ensure the wound heals properly,” she says. 

Risk Factors for Chronic Wounds 

“Certain medical problems and wound factors will predispose patients to issues with healing, which leads to chronic wounds,” says Adkins. She says these factors include:

  • Cardiovascular and peripheral vascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Poor nutrition
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Smoking

Chronic wounds disproportionately affect older adults, especially those with limited mobility and fragile skin. The most common types of chronic wounds are venous and arterial ulcers, diabetic ulcers, and pressure ulcers. They usually affect the legs and bony areas, such as the heels, tailbone, and elbows.  

Dangers of Chronic Wounds 

According to Adkins, an infected chronic wound can lead to serious complications, including: 

  • Necrosis
  • Gangrene
  • Tissue Loss
  • Osteomyelitis (bone infection)

“If these complications occur, there may be a need for more invasive and extreme procedures for wound management, such as cutting away dead tissue or even amputation,” she says. 

The healing process for a chronic wound can be long and arduous, especially if it’s infected. The portable wound care system developed by the Purdue team may provide another viable treatment option. According to the press release, the team is currently seeking partners to continue product development. 

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