The PRO’s of PROtein and wound healing.

You may have looked around your pharmacy shelves and noticed the significant increase in the amount of protein products. Your store seems to be in a bulking phase. There are powders, bars and balls. There is Whey protein, Pea protein, Rice protein and more. Let’s face it, if someone wants a supplemented protein source, your pharmacy and your team are placed perfectly in the market to help them.

Who are these products targeted to? Surely there aren’t that many die hard gym junkies that come into your store.

What you will see though is a significant number of customers every day with wounds. They may be acute or chronic and these customers are in need of your expertise.

Wound healing process

Wound healing is a complex process – in simple terms, it is the process of replacing injured tissue with new tissue produced by the body which demands an increased consumption of energy and particular nutrients, particularly protein and calories.

As we age, our bones become brittle and skin becomes very dry, thin and fragile. In older people, skin takes longer to repair and the wound healing process is slower. Not only are falls more common in the elderly, but a simple bang on the leg from a chair or table may break the skin and produce a wound that takes a long time to heal. Some customers with poor circulation, diabetes or those who are bedridden may have wounds that can be present for weeks or even months.

Factors affecting wound healing

Some health conditions may affect or delay the healing process also. In particular, customers with the following health conditions should be referred to the pharmacist.

  • Chronic health conditions that affect blood or lymph circulation e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, HIV/AIDS.
  • Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
  • Lifestyle conditions such as poor nutrition, alcohol dependence, smoking and obesity.

Promoting wound healing

For wounds to heal, customers need to be well nourished. Without proper nutrition, the whole process of wound healing can be negatively impacted. Their diet during recovery plays a critical role in how fast their wound heals, how strong the wound tissue becomes, the duration of the recovery period and how well their body fights off infection. Adequate intake of protein, carbohydrates, fats and glucose assist with wound healing. This may mean supplementing their diet with high protein supplements and taking vitamins and minerals such as Zinc, vitamin A and C. A poor diet can turn an acute wound into a chronic wound that never seems to be get better.

Role of protein in wound healing

Protein is essential for the maintenance and repair of body tissue. Depleted protein levels will cause a decrease in collagen development, slowing the wound healing process. Adequate protein levels will help achieve optimal wound healing rates. Protein requirements should be calculated on an individual basis, and they should be discussed in conjunction with the pharmacist.

Individual protein needs

The amount of protein you need in your diet depends on your weight, age and health. As a rough guide, the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for protein (measured in grams per kilogram of bodyweight) is:

  • 75 g/kg for adult women
  • 84 g/kg for adult men
  • Around 1 g/kg for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and for men and women over 70 years.

For example, a 75 kg elderly male would need 75 g of protein per day. The human body can’t store protein and will excrete any excess. Therefore, the most effective way of using the daily protein requirement is to eat small amounts at every meal. Using the example of the 75 kg elderly male above, this would require that he eats approximately 25 g of protein at three meals each day.

Some sources of dietary protein

  • lean meat, poultry and fish
  • eggs
  • dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese
  • seeds and nuts
  • beans and legumes (such as lentils and chickpeas)
  • soy products like tofu
  • some grain and cereal-based products are also sources of protein, but are generally not as high in protein as meat and meat alternative products.

Supporting your customers

So how can you help your customers? By asking them some specific protocol questions.

  • Who has the wound?
  • Where is the wound and how and when was it inflicted?
  • Have they tried anything so far to treat the wound? And has it been effective?
  • Is there any pain or signs of infection from the wound? -YES – refer
  • Do they have any health conditions or take regular medications? – YES – refer
  • Do they suffer from any allergies? – YES – refer
  • Could they be pregnant or breastfeeding? – YES – refer

Refer to the pharmacist as needed in response to the answers provided and if you are unsure and/or need clarification.

With the above information gathered you will be able to discuss wound care dressing requirements.

To be able to provide the customer with additional wound care support ask them WHAT IS THEIR DIETARY INTAKE LIKE? Focus on their protein intake. Confirm their age and weight and in discussion with the pharmacist, you both will be able to discuss adding a protein source to the customers wound care regime.

Whether the customer purchases an easy to use protein powder, bar or ball from your pharmacy or they increase their dietary protein intake naturally, it really doesn’t matter, as long as they know what their adequate protein intake levels are, they will be on the path to a more effective wound healing result.



 Pharmacy Guild of Australia

Assist customers with wound care products – SIRCPPA015

Assist customers with first aid products – SIRCPPA003