Damage to the structural integrity of the skin through trauma or injury initiates the skin barrier repair/wound healing process, which is highly complex and carefully regulated with ordered responses. There are four main stages involved in the normal skin barrier repair/wound healing process: haemostasis, inflammation, proliferation and remodelling, all of which occur in an over-lapping chronological sequence.
Disruption to the sequence or prolongation in the inflammation stage has been shown to delay the skin barrier repair/wound healing process, leading to non-healing chronic wound formation. Chronic wounds have been described as wounds, which do not heal within 3 months from the time of injury. Several factors have been shown to affect the progression of the normal skin barrier repair/wound healing process, including infection, age, diabetes and obesity. The prevalence of chronic wounds has been described as a silent epidemic, affecting a large proportion of the world population, particularly western societies, where 1–2% of the population will develop a chronic wound. Treating and managing these wounds creates major problems for health budgets in the western world.