Taking care of a wound for either yourself or a loved one can seem difficult. We want to share some simple “do’s” and “don’ts” to keep in mind as you provide wound care for yourself or for a loved one.
Do Clean Your Wound Regularly
Cleaning your wound will help to prevent infection and encourage healing. Most wounds can be gently cleaned with soap and water. Before cleaning your wound, check with the medical team treating your wound, as some types of wounds must be cleaned in certain ways.
Do Change Your Dressing Daily or When Soiled
Unless your wound care provider has instructed you differently, the dressing on your wound should be changed daily or whenever it is dirty. By changing the dressing regularly, you will avoid infection by removing an environment where bacteria could grow. Regularly changing your dressing is especially necessary if you are using a medication or ointment underneath the dressing.
Do Use Prescribed Medications
If you have a wound, your wound care team may prescribe medications or supplements to treat an infection, prevent infection from occurring, or provide the wound with nutrients to promote healing. These medications or nutrients could be in the form of pills you take or ointments that are directly applied to the wound. Using the prescribed medications can help your wound to heal faster and prevent complications that could otherwise occur.
Do Follow a Healthy, High-Protein Diet
Wounds need nutrients to heal properly, especially protein and calories. Following a healthy, high-protein diet can help your wound to heal faster. Avoiding a high-sugar diet can help to reduce the risk of infection, especially if you have diabetes.
Do Get Your Staples or Sutures Removed on Time
If your wound care provider has used staples or sutures to close a wound, they should be removed on time. The timing for removal will vary based on the location of the wound and the type of material used to close the wound. However, your wound care provider will give you instructions on the timeframe that you should have the sutures or staples removed. If they are left in for too long, it can raise your risk of infection and scarring.
Do Use Recommended Specialized Dressings
Some wounds may require unique and specific dressings. These dressings can help wounds heal faster, treat existing infection, or prevent infection from occurring. Using specialized dressings suggested by your wound care provider can help your wound to heal much quicker than it would have otherwise, and may help to prevent potential complications.
Do Monitor Your Wound for Infection
An infection can make a wound heal more slowly or even make it worse. Monitoring your wound for infection can help to avoid the potential complications it can cause. Some potential signs of infection include:
- Redness of the skin around the wound
- Swelling in or around the wound
- A throbbing sensation in the wound
- An unpleasant odor from the wound
- Pus that is in, or draining from, the wound
Don’t Ignore Changes to Your Wound
Small changes in the color, smell, or appearance of your wound can indicate that your wound may be changing or developing an infection. Increases in the wound size or depth can be especially concerning for improper healing. Bringing small changes to the attention of your wound care provider can help to treat the changes before they have a more impactful effect on the healing of your wound.
Don’t Leave a Dirty Dressing on Your Wound
Changing a dressing can be inconvenient. It can be tempting to put off a dressing change that you know would be best to do. Leaving a soiled dressing on, however, provides a moist, dirty environment in which bacteria will thrive, making the risk of infection much higher. While changing a dirty or old dressing may seem inconvenient, it is much easier than having to deal with an infection later. It could help to set a timer or incentivize a dressing change with a treat or reward!
Don’t Risk Further Injury
Wounds interrupt the natural protection your body has from the outside world, making you more at risk of injury in that area. Avoiding the potential of further injury to the area will help the wound to heal better and avoid potential setbacks. This is especially important for pressure injuries where the wound was initially caused by pressure on that area. Reinjury of a pressure wound may occur if pressure is not relieved to that area while the wound is healing. Avoiding pressure on wound areas will help to avoid potential delays in wound healing.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask if You’re Unsure About Something
There is a lot to taking care of a wound, and the odds are that you will encounter things that you are not sure about. When you encounter an area of wound care that you have questions about, don’t be afraid to reach out to your wound care provider for help. You can also call your Tomorrow Health advocate, and we’ll help you find the resource you need. Having an answer and taking care of your wound correctly can help you to avoid complications that may be caused by guessing.