What is a Wound?
A wound occurs when there is a break in the skin or injury to deeper tissues underneath the skin. Wounds can happen from accidents, surgeries, or on-the-job injuries. These can include everything from a scrape caused by falling on the curb, to a large, open wound during a car accident. They may involve everything from a surgical incision that is stitched closed to a diabetic ulcer that is deep and open. Some wounds cause minor injury and require very little treatment, while other wounds can be life-threatening and require medical treatment in the hospital. With the advances in wound technology today, many wounds can be treated and closely monitored in the comfort of your own home.
Why Isn’t My Wound Healing Like it Should?
Treatment of wounds depends on the size and severity of the area, and certain lifestyle factors. It can be scary and unsettling when a wound has trouble healing, but with proper wound treatment, you can ensure you are caring for your wound in the best way possible. Knowing the basics of wound treatment can also prevent complications, such as infection and tissue necrosis. It is important to note that those with diabetes, cancer, or an above-average weight may have issues with impaired wound healing. Additionally, those taking certain medications such as NSAIDs or steroids may have problems with wounds. People who have trouble moving around are at higher risk of getting a wound from the pressure of sitting or lying in bed for long amounts of time. Lastly, lifestyle factors, such as tobacco and heavy alcohol use, will also slow down wound healing.
What Are My Treatment Options?
A quick internet search for wound treatment options can be overwhelming and leave you with more questions than answers. When preparing to care for your wound, the first thing you should know is that treatment will depend on the size, shape, and severity. This will be done with the help of your health care professional. Our goal is to provide information regarding wound treatment options and help alleviate your fears!
Your health care professional may have you or your home care nurse irrigate the wound on a regular basis. This is done to maintain moisture, clean the wound, and remove debris that may cause infection. This may be done with sterile water, saline, or in some cases, medications such as antibiotics or hydrogen peroxide. Irrigation should be done gently so it does not disrupt healing skin tissues. You or your home care nurse may be asked to use a large syringe or bulb suction when you perform fluid irrigation. Many of these supplies should come with your order and be covered by your insurance. You can speak with a Tomorrow Health Advocate to learn more.
Wound dressings are special materials that cover a wound. If you use bandages when you get a scrape, you’ve already been using a type of wound dressing. Wound dressings play a huge role in wound healing and can even minimize the appearance of a scar. Dressings come in many shapes and sizes to match the different types of wounds. Wound dressings also have many functions, like allowing oxygen to enter the wound while shielding away moisture and bacteria. It is common for you to need different types of dressings during the wound healing process. For example, one dressing may be helpful in the beginning stages of a wound, while a different type of dressing may be needed after your wound has reached a certain milestone. We review the common classes of wound dressings below:
Gauze is a light cloth used to pack a wound or to apply to an open area. It comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, such as individual pads, rolls, and sponges. Because of its softness, gauze can be applied directly to the base of a wound. When this is done, it is typically moistened with saline or sterile water before it is placed on the affected area. Gauze can be infused with medications or petroleum jelly. They are usually non-adherent to surrounding skin and leave very little residue on your skin. Because of this, gauze is commonly reinforced with tape or another adhesive dressing.
Film dressings are clear sheets of material that allows you to monitor the wound without removing the dressing. Film dressings are semi-permeable, allowing oxygen to enter, while protecting the wound from harmful substances such as bacteria. Wound films typically have the fastest wound healing rates and lowest infection rates. Films are typically used on large or complex wounds. Tegaderm and Bioclusive are types of film dressings. Film dressings are also used to hold gauze or other dressings on.
Foam dressings are also commonly used for wound treatment. These dressings are able to absorb large amounts of fluid and can be cut and molded to fit oddly-shaped wounds. They help to prevent leakage and infection. Foams are used to maintain a healthy moisture balance and are a good choice for foul-smelling wounds. Foam dressings are usually changed daily and are used in the beginning stages of healing. Types of foam dressings include Lyofoam and Allevyn.
Hydrocolloid dressings have a gel base and promote wound moisture and increased healing. It is made up of chemicals that form into a gel when it comes in contact with moisture. This process allows hydrocolloid dressings to gently trap bacteria and debris away from the wound while promoting wound healing. These dressings are self-adherent and don’t require tape. Hydrocolloid dressings are a good option for those with sensitive skin or tape allergies.
Negative Pressure Wound Therapy
Negative pressure wound therapy, also called vacuum assisted wound-therapy, is a popular treatment option for open wounds. This involves a device consisting of a foam dressing cut to the size of the wound, a film dressing, suction tubing, and a pump. The device applies suction to the wound continuously or at prescribed intervals. Negative pressure wound therapy helps to promote blood flow, decrease inflammation, and prevent infection. This device is battery operated and comes with a charging plug. Dressings are changed every few days. Negative pressure wound therapy has been beneficial for many types of wounds, including surgical wounds, diabetic ulcers, and pressure sores. If you are interested in learning more about negative pressure wound therapy and if it could help your wound healing, speak with your physician.
It is important to protect yourself from the complications of wounds. Make sure you are stocked with the right supplies needed to give your wound the best chance of recovery. Tomorrow Health provides several treatment options to promote optimal wound healing and prevent infection. You can call us at 1-844-402-4344 to learn more.