Taking care of your wound at home may seem overwhelming. There can seem like a lot of information that you need to know, and it can be difficult to know what is truly important. To make it easier for you, we have included the top five things we believe you should know about taking care of a wound at home.
1.) Keeping the Wound Clean Matters
Infection can make wound healing take longer. Keeping your wound as clean as possible will help to prevent infection.
Changing the Dressing
Changing the dressing is an important part of keeping your wound clean. Your dressing will slowly become dirty or may absorb bleeding or other fluids. Unless your healthcare team has instructed you otherwise, the dressing should typically be changed once a day or when soiled. Some dressings, such as a dressing over a surgical wound, may need to be left on and only changed by your healthcare team, even if they absorb drainage. If you are unsure if you should be changing your dressing yourself or when you should be changing it, your healthcare team can give you guidance.
Cleaning the Wound
If your wound has been closed with stitches or staples, it should be protected with a dry dressing for 48 hours. After this period, you can gently clean the wound with soap and water. If you have an open wound, cleaning it will depend on a variety of factors. Cleaning some open wounds can get bacteria deeper into the wound, making the risk of infection worse. If you have an open wound, seeking medical advice about how to keep it clean and following that advice will help you to avoid a potential infection.
2.) Following Medical Instructions is Key
Every wound is different and requires different types of treatments. Your medical team will provide instructions that need to be followed to provide your wound with the best opportunity to heal.
Stitches or Staple Removal
If your medical team used stitches or staples to close your wound, they will need to be removed. If they are removed too early, the wound will not heal correctly. If they are removed too late, they can lead to scarring or infection. Based on the type of material and location of your wound, your medical team will advise on when you should get your stitches or staples removed.
Your medical team will provide you with wound-specific instructions that will tell you how to clean it, what dressings and medications to use, what complications you should monitor for, and how to follow up with the medical team. Following the specific instructions that they provide will help you to receive the best treatment for your unique situation and provide you with the best opportunity for your wound to heal.
3.) Lifestyle Affects Healing
The body is designed to heal itself, even under some pretty extreme conditions. Lifestyle can affect how quickly and efficiently wound healing will occur.
Diet can affect how wounds heal. The body requires energy and protein to heal wounds, so ensuring you include sufficient amounts of calories and protein in your diet will help your wound to heal faster. A supplement may also be added to encourage healing. Foods that are high in sugars can raise the risk of infection and should be limited or avoided while you have a healing wound. Hydration is also important for wound healing and ensuring that you stay hydrated will help your wound to heal as quickly as possible.
Regular exercise, even if it is light exercise such as walking, can help promote blood flow and make wounds heal faster. Good blood flow helps ensure nutrients are getting to the wound so it can heal quickly.
Smoking constricts your blood flow, decreasing the flow of nutrients to the wound. Smoking can also lead to small blockages in blood circulation that further decreases blood flow to the wound. Reducing or stopping smoking can help wounds to heal better, especially if the wound has been slow to heal.
4.) Medications Can Make a Difference
The medications that your medical team has you use can make a difference in how quickly your wound heals and how likely you are to get an infection in your wound.
Antibiotics are medications that help to kill bacteria, getting rid of existing infections and preventing new infections from occurring. Antibiotics may be taken as a pill or may be in a cream that can be applied directly to the wound. Antibiotic medications should only be used under the direction of a licensed medical provider.
Your medical team may prescribe or recommend specific medications for certain types of wounds. These medications can help the wound to heal faster or prevent infections without using antibiotics. Using medications recommended or prescribed by the medical team will provide you with the best wound healing possible for your unique situation.
5.) You Are Not Alone
One of the most important things to keep in mind while caring for your wound at home is that you are not alone. While it may seem like you are taking care of the wound all by yourself, your medical team is always available to assist you with problems or questions. Even after hours, most medical teams have a member available to answer important questions or provide advice on your wound care. Don’t be afraid to use the team managing your wound if you need any help or advice in caring for your wound at home.
We at Tomorrow Health strive to provide you with the resources that you need to succeed. With content that is written by licensed healthcare professionals, we are always available as a reputable resource for your wound care needs or questions. It is important to us that you realize that you are not alone as you care for your wound at home.