Oops!! Avoiding Common Wound Care Mistakes
By Kevin Cleary
When recovering from any type of wound the continued home care can be very important. Many mistakes can actually worsen the injury and lengthen the recovery period. Such errors such as incorrect wound dressings or the failure to clean out all foreign debris can have consequences down the road. Errors or even omissions are inevitable at home, but minimizing these can go a long way in the healing of any wound. The failure to treat your wound at home can lead to complications such as infection, cell mutilation, and pain. In a worst-case scenario this neglect can lead to disability.
Understand Your Wound
To facilitate quick healing of your wound it is important to understand what the characteristics of your wound are. Without proper care a minor wound can escalate into a problem or even a dangerous one. According to the National Institute of Health wounds such as punctures/bites, foot wounds, wounds in dirty areas, and sports injuries increase your risk of infection. To avoid infections there are a few simple steps to assure proper healing. The website advancedtissue.com published an article in August 2014 identifying these steps. The first step they identify is possibly the most vital, cleaning the wound. Before applying any dressing the removing of any foreign debris or dirt can be critical to avoid trapping any bacteria or dirt in the area therefore minimizing the possibility of infection. Sometimes this can be as little as rinsing the area with running water and using tweezers to remove any foreign dirt and debris. They also point out that a washcloth and some soap around the area will go a long way to minimizing infection risk. No matter what wound cleanser you decide to use, whether it is saline, wound cleansing spray, or a topical agent like bacitracin or a hydrogel cream, the removal of foreign agents is critical. The second part of their wound care procedure is to always keep the wound covered. A wound should only be covered after it has been cleaned. The longer it has been left uncovered the greater the risk of developing an infection. Think of an uncovered wound as leaving your front door open for a burglar, neither the bad guy nor bacteria are welcome inside. The article points out that any wound suffered outside should be covered as soon as possible so it’s a good idea to always have a first aid kit handy. The last thing the article states is that major wounds need to be attended by a medical professional. While it is important to stop any initial bleeding, it’s crucial to get your injury cleaned and covered as soon as possible. Also, if there is anything impaled or lodged in you it’s a great idea not to try to remove it yourself but to seek professional medical help. Following the advice of your doctor, nurse, or other medical professional can be viewed as a first step in avoiding mistakes that can lead to infections.
Finding the Right Cover
Once you have determined the extent of your injury and cleaned it out the next step is to get it covered so to avoid any contamination from bacteria or dirt. Since many wounds containing exudates, which is a fluid emitted from the wound, it’s important to use the proper bandages. There are different dressings for different types of exudate absorption.
Light Exudate Wound:
For wounds that emit a small amount of exudate these dressings aren’t required to absorb much liquid. They do however provide an important barrier from bacteria and other foreign debris to minimize the risk of infection. Dressings such as the 3M Medipore Plus Pad Soft Cloth Adhesive Wound Dressing provides a primary or secondary dressing for light to moderate draining wounds and flexes with your body’s movements and contours. Another option for wounds with low to medium exudate is the MediPlus Comfort Foam Silicone Adhesive Wound Dressing. They provide an excellent absorption capacity for up to seven days or can be changed as needed for as often as your doctor burns. Requires. It is designed to absorb and retain exudates to help reduce the risk of maceration. For minor wounds that can be difficult to cover such as those around elbows or other joints, the Coloplast Comfeel Plus Contour Dressing offers a butterfly shaped, hydrocolloid edging dressing that adheres to areas such as the sacrum, heel, and elbow. It allows moisture to evaporate while maintaining a moist healing environment. A non-adhesive option is the Kendall Curity Non-Adhering Dressing which allows for free exudate drainage away from your wound.
Heavier Exudate Wound:
Some injuries can leave wounds that are more severe and therefore produce larger amounts of exudate. The key to treating these wounds is removing as much exudate away from the wound is possible. Options for patients include the ColActive Plus Collagen Advanced Wound Care Dressing that creates a suitable environment for healing by using a fast acting collagen matrix that aids in the formation of granulation tissue and epitheliazation. Its gelling action provides cooling, soothing relief for patient comfort. Another option that can absorb up to 10 times its weight in exudate is the Ferris PolyMem Film Adhesive Wound Dressing. It’s a waterproof dressing that gently expands to fill and conform to the wound. It’s a latex free dressing that contains a mild non-toxic cleansing agent that is gradually released into the wound bed. For those looking for a dressing that can be left in place for up to seven days, the Medline Optifoam Gentle Foam Wound Dressing with Silicone Adhesive Border might fit the bill. It is highly absorbent and creates an ideal healing environment while providing gentle adhesion. Its moisture vapor transmission rate adjusts to the fluid level of the wound and can be used for numerous types of injuries from pressure ulcers to first and second degree burns. For addressing that incorporates alginates, patients may want to try the Molnlycke Melgisorb Highly Absorbent Calcium Alginate Wound Dressing. It can absorb up to 18 times its weight and creates a moist environment that is conducive for healing.
By identifying what your wound needs for healing, you can avoid using the wrong type of cleanser or dressing. What’s more important is that by using the correct items you can create an atmosphere that is conducive for your wound to heal properly.