Researchers in Britain revealed Tuesday they have discovered why one-in-10 people suffer potentially fatal wounds that are slow to heal.
New research carried out at the University of Manchester has identified a bacterium, normally present on the skin, which can cause poor wound healing.
They discovered that if a receptor, which allows the body to recognise the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, is damaged, it results in loss of function and a shift in balance.
According to Dr Sheena Cruickshank, the shift in balance has an enormous impact on the ability of a wound to heal. The bacterium, which lives naturally on humans, has previously been associated with wound infections, with infection a major complication of skin wounds that fail to heal.
The study was carried out at Manchester, led by Cruickshank and Dr Matthew Hardman who is now at the University of Hull.
Their research, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology and funded by the Medical Research Council, casts new light on why those 10 percent of people will develop a wound infection which does not heal well.
Dr Cruickshank said: "There is an urgent need to understand the bacterial communities in our skin and why so many of us will develop wounds that do not heal.
"Wounds can be caused by a multitude of factors from trauma to bed sores, but infection is a complication that can on occasion lead to life threatening illness.
"Many people are struggling with wounds that heal poorly but this new study suggests that the types of bacteria present may be responsible for our failure to heal which is important for considering how we manage wound treatment."