ABOUT WOUND CARE
What is Wound Care?
Wound care is the process of treating a wound through the various stages of the healing process. Wound care supplies including dressings, bandages, cleansers, skin adhesives, sutures, staples, stitches, and wound drainage products are some of the essential items required in a comprehensive treatment plan.
Open Wounds - External damage to the skin, often with internal tissue exposure, that commonly causes bleeding and scarring. Many types of wound care products and supplies are available to treat open wounds.
Closed Wounds - Also known as internal wounds, this type of injury occurs without exposing underlying tissue; like hematomas and contusions. These types of wounds are not typically treated topically.
Acute Wounds - Wounds that heal in a predictable amount of time without complications.
Chronic Wounds - Wounds that are slow to heal often with complications requiring ongoing treatment.
COMMON TYPES OF OPEN WOUNDS
Tearing of the skin in an irregular manner by a sharp object, like knives or glass, or as a result of blunt trauma. Commonly referred to as a cut, these wounds can vary in severity depending on the depth and location of the injury.
Small round wounds caused by sharp objects like nails, animal bites, or tacks that can be quite deep and painful. To avoid infection, immediate treatment is recommended.
Damage to the skin or other human tissue caused by fire or excessive heat, sun exposure, chemicals, electricity, radiation, etc. Severity of burn wounds are classified by 1st through 4th degree based on the depth and size of the injury.
Ulcers are open wounds that occur on the surface of the skin as a result of poor circulation, constant pressure, or injury. Common skin ulcers include bedsores and diabetic foot ulcers. Often long-healing, ulcers can become chronic in nature if left untreated.
Usually a minor injury, abrasions occur when the skin is grazed or rubbed off an area of the body when in contact with a rough surface. Common abrasions include brush burns and scrapes and are easily cared for at home.
HOW DO WOUNDS HEAL?
Although the healing process can be interrupted by setbacks caused by external or internal conditions, wounds progress through 4 basic phases in a dependably linear order. The process begins with the Hemostasis phase, followed by the Inflammation, Proliferative, and Remodeling phases. In the final stage, also known as Maturation, the skin's collagen changes to its final form and the wound closes.
Proper care with quality wound care products can expedite the process by protecting it from further injury and infection. When a wound does not continue to progress through these four stages of healing, it is classified as chronic and will require additional medical intervention. Factors that may result in chronic wounds typically involve patients' pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes, metabolic deficiencies, and venous disease. Infection can also lead to a halt in the healing process, and in turn, a chronic wound classification.
ESSENTIAL OPEN WOUND CARE SUPPLIES
Wound dressings are the first layer of protection between a cut, abrasion, burn, ulceration, or surgical incision and medical tapes, bandages, or wraps. Products like gauze, hydrogel, and sterile pads offer an effective solution to prevent infection, control excessive bleeding, and promote healing.
Medical bandages maximize healing time and minimize risk of infection or further injury. They range in style from traditional adhesive bandages used to treat minor injuries like cuts, scrapes or blisters to elastic wraps or sports bandages commonly used to stabilize sprains, strains and joints.
Wound drainage naturally occurs during the healing process and its color, thickness, clarity and odor can often tell clinicians how well a wound is healing; Wound drainage devices and irrigation supplies are sometimes necessary to control the amount of seepage and avoid infection.
Although suture kits and removal tools are necessities in emergency medical care, skin staplers also play an important role in managing a laceration or cut quickly and efficiently. Skin closure strips and adhesives are also commonly used in wound management.
BURN CARE ESSENTIALS
The basic steps to care for minor burns include immediately cooling and cleaning the wound with cool, not cold, water. Leave any formed blisters intact to avoid contamination. Apply a thin layer of ointment like aloe vera, petroleum jelly, or cocoa butter to keep skin from drying out. To maintain a clean healing site and protect it from further injury, wrap with a gauze wound dressing. For more serious burns, many experts recommend using silver-infused wound products and dressings. Finally, soothe pain with over-the-counter pain relievers. Please note, minor burns may take up to 3 weeks to heal, in which time you may experience itching; avoid scratching. For wounds affecting more than the surface layer of skin, seek medical attention immediately.
FIRST AID KIT ESSENTIALS
Whether collecting medical supplies for a portable, professional or home-based first aid kit, the basic products remain the same. The size of the kit and the quantity of each product to have on hand, however, may vary depending on the number of people it must serve in an emergency situation. Of course, all-inclusive first aid kits are available to purchase, but as the contents are used or expire they will need to be replaced to ensure you are always prepared.
The Red Cross recommends that a family of four include the following in a home first aid kit:
- 2 - 5 x 9 in. absorbent compress dressings
- 25 adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
- 1 roll of adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
- 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
- 5 antiseptic wipe packets
- 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
- 1 emergency blanket
- 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
- 1 instant cold compress
- 2 pairs of non-latex exam gloves, size large
- 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
- 1 - 3 in. gauze roll bandage
- 1 elastic bandage (4 inches wide)
- 5 - 3 in. x 3 in. sterile gauze pads
- 5 - 4 in. x 4 in. sterile gauze pads
- Oral thermometer (non-mercury/nonglass)
- 2 triangular bandages
- Emergency First Aid guide
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do I care for a burn wound?
- Cool the burn. Run cool (not cold) water over the burned area or apply a cool, wet compress until the pain lessens.
- Remove rings or other tight items from the burned area quickly and gently before swelling sets in.
- If blisters form, don’t break them. Blisters protect against infection. When a blister breaks, clean the area with water. Consider applying a wound cleanser for added protection from infection.
- Once a burn is thoroughly cooled, apply wound care products including antibiotic ointment to prevent drying, stave off infection, and provide relief.
- Cover burns with sterile gauze bandages (not fluffy cotton) for protection. Wrap loosely to avoid putting pressure on the burned skin.
- If pain persists, take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
How to care for an infected wound?
When wounds become infected with harmful bacteria, the body may not heal effectively on its own. Plus, some infections can spread to other parts of your body. Thus, getting prompt infected wound treatment is critical. Keep a first aid kit handy, then follow these steps:
- After rinsing with clean water, remove all dirt, gravel, glass, or other debris with tweezers.
- Clean the wound with a wound cleanser, a cost-effective rinsing solution that promotes wound healing and reduces infection.
- Apply an antibiotic cream or ointment, then allow the area to air-dry.
- Cover wounds with bandages or wound dressings.
- Change the dressing daily and also if it gets damp or dirty.
- Seek medical attention if you don’t see any signs of improvement over 1-2 days.
How do I dress a wound?
Wound dressing must be done correctly and safely to absorb wound drainage, prevent infection, speed up your body’s healing processes, and give sutures, stitches, and staples the time they need to heal. Once you have cleaned the area and applied wound care products, choose a dressing based on the size of your wound and apply it.
How to change a tracheostomy dressing?
Tracheostomy patients have an increased risk of infection, so you must be careful when changing a tracheostomy dressing. A tracheostomy dressing absorbs secretions and protects the surrounding area. Follow these steps to change the dressing:
- After cleaning your hands and putting on surgical gloves, remove the old dressing.
- Check the stoma for signs of infection, including pus-like discharge, localized pain, odor, abscess, cellulitis, or discoloration.
- If an infection is suspected, report it to your medical provider immediately.
- If any adhesive remains from the old dressing, apply adhesive remover.
- Clean the stoma and the surrounding skin with sterile 0.9% saline and let it dry.
- If indicated, apply skin barrier film and allow it to dry.
- Secure the tracheostomy tube and slide the dressing under each of the flanges.
- Reapply the tube fixation device.
What is wound debridement?
In a wound debridement procedure, your doctor removes dead or contaminated tissue from your wound. It differs from wound cleansing processes, which clear dirt, foreign material, or metabolic waste from wounds before wound dressings are applied. How wound debridement is completed depends on the severity of the injury and damage.
MEDICAL ADVICE DISCLAIMER
The information, including but not limited to text, graphics, images, charts, and any other material on this site, is intended for informational purposes only and does not take the place of medical guidance provided by your physician. No information on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult a qualified medical professional about your condition or circumstances before undertaking a new healthcare regimen.