It is no secret that drug addiction can cause serious problems with your overall health and even damage your organs. It may surprise you to learn the area of the body most prone to damage from drug use is your skin. Skin is the body’s largest organ and often the first place that addiction-related injuries appear, making it important to get quick medical attention for any addiction-related wounds.
Most Common Addiction Wounds
An estimated one-third of addicts develop a drug-related wound each year. These wounds can result from what drugs you are using, how you are using them, and the impurities that they may contain. The most common drugs that cause wounds include:
Cocaine and crack cocaine can cause several types of skin wounds. They happen most often as a result of injecting these drugs but can also result from smoking or snorting them. The most common addiction wound care needs seen in cocaine users include:
- Necrosis or the death of skin cells
- Fibrous tissue formation just under the skin
- Blackening of the palms, also called “crack hands”, from smoking crack
- Skin ulcers and abscesses
- Loss of cartilage in the nose
- Pustulosis, which are small, pimple-like raised areas of the skin that are filled with pus, and can pop open and bleed
- Inflamed blood vessels within the skin, which causes red spots that can bleed
- Inflamed veins just under the skin, which swell and turn red
The main reason why cocaine can lead to a need for addiction wound care is that it’s often cut with toxic substances. The most common substance is levamisole, a cow and horse dewormer. When this medication is taken by a human for a long period of time, it can build up in their tissues. This leads to open skin sores and even rotting of the skin.
Another drug with the potential for needing addiction wound care is heroin. This usually happens when people use heroin by injecting it. This can lead to scarring of the veins, also known as “track marks”. Left untreated, this can cause other problems like skin lesions, abscesses, skin infections, cellulitis, an infection of the soft tissue under the skin, and sepsis, a potentially deadly infection in the blood.
Much like cocaine, heroin is also cut with dangerous chemicals, most commonly citric acid. When injected, this causes acid burns in the blood vessels, veins, and other tissues, which can lead to necrotic or dead tissue. If not treated as soon as possible, necrotic tissue can lead to amputation.
Perhaps one of the most commonly recognized addiction wounds comes from using methamphetamine or meth. People who are addicted to meth often have small open sores on their faces or arms. These are the result of “meth mites”. Meth mites are hallucinations that people have while high on meth that makes them think tiny bugs are under their skin. This leads users to pick at their skin to try and dig the imaginary bugs out.
These open sores present a huge risk of infection, especially if you aren’t paying attention to your personal hygiene. Failing to care for infected skin sores can lead to abscesses, tissue death, sepsis, and amputation.
One of the lesser-known drugs when it comes to addiction wound care, krokodil is a drug that is a type of desomorphine, an illegal semi-synthetic opioid. It gets its name from the gray-green scaly gangrene skin ulcers it causes, which look similar to crocodile skin. Krokodil has been gaining popularity in Russia for over a decade. While still uncommon in the U.S., it has been found in several different states.
This drug is illicitly made using a mixture of codeine and toxic chemicals like gasoline, paint thinner, and battery acid, which is what makes it so dangerous. When this drug is injected, users have a high risk of developing wounds like skin and bone infections, abscesses, skin and tissue death, and sepsis.
Addiction Wound Care Tips
If you are addicted to a drug that is causing wounds on or under the skin, you need to make an effort to take care of these wounds. It is almost impossible for these wounds to heal themselves if you are still in the grip of addiction. Most rehab and detox facilities have a lot of experience in addiction wound care and can help both heal your body and help you overcome your addiction.
If you aren’t ready to seek help at a rehab, you still need to receive addiction wound care. Here is what you need to do to keep your wounds from becoming life-threatening:
- Keep the wound free of dirt or debris. Wash or disinfect the area at least twice a day, and dry it carefully by patting it with a clean cloth or paper towel.
- If the wound is deep or infected, seek help from a medical professional. Emergency rooms frequently help people with addiction wound care needs and can recommend ways for you to help the wound heal at home.
- Your body uses fat and protein to heal, so make an effort to eat them both regularly in order to speed up the healing process.
- If at any point you have a fever, chills, pain around the wound, or soreness in your armpits or groin, go to the emergency room immediately. These can all be signs of a serious infection such as sepsis, which needs to be treated as soon as possible.
While asking for help can be difficult, it is necessary in order to prevent long-term health risks. Always remember that you aren’t alone and that medical professionals are there to help you. Wound care could be the first step to getting the help you need to quit drugs for good.
Addiction Wound Care in Nashville, TN
When addiction is accompanied by wounds related to it, this can make a person embarrassed to reach out for help. We understand exactly how to treat both the addiction and the wounds and provide compassionate medical and psychological support. Additionally, we accept Aetna insurance for those who qualify. Contact Brentwood Springs Detox in Nashville, or Columbia, Tennessee today and let us answer any questions you have about detox and wound care.