How to Clean and Dress Your Wounds

Wound dressing

How to Clean and Dress Your Wounds

Our skin is the largest organ in our body and helps protect it from germs. Anything that breaks the skin is a wound because when the skin is broken, there’s a risk of infection. More often than not, wounds happen due to accidents, but – guess what? – even clean surgical incisions are wounds. The deeper, larger, or dirtier a wound is, the more care it needs. Here’s how you look after your wounds. 

Cleaning Your Wound

Follow these steps to clean your wound:

  1. Wash your hands, dry them and put on a new pair of  gloves.
  2. Use a clean, soft washcloth to gently clean your wound with a few tablespoons of salt dissolved in lukewarm water. Your wound should not bleed much when you are cleaning it but a small amount of blood is okay.
  3. Rinse your wound with water. Gently pat it dry with a clean towel – do not rub it.
  4. Check the wound for increased redness, swelling or a bad odour.
  5. Pay attention to the colour and amount of drainage from your wound. Look for drainage that has become darker or thicker.
  6. After cleaning your wound, remove your gloves and put them in a bag with the old dressing and gloves and dispose of this.
  7. Wash your hands thoroughly again.

When it comes to how fast and effectively your wounds heal, the type of dressing you use is crucial. The type of dressing depends on the type of injury, the size, location, and the severity. To make the process of choosing the right wound dressing for the injury, that little bit easier, we have put together the guide below, detailing what each of the seven most commonly used wound dressings should be used for.

Hydrocolloid Dressing

Hydrocolloid can be used on burns, wounds that are emitting liquid, necrotic wounds, pressure ulcers, and venous ulcers. Hydrocolloid dressings create moist conditions which help to heal certain wounds, yet they are impermeable to bacteria, which is what makes them so effective at preventing infections. The flexible material that they are made from makes them comfortable to wear and suitable for even the most sensitive of skin types.

Hydrogel Dressing

Hydrogel can be used for wounds that have little or no leaking, are painful or necrotic wounds, or are pressure ulcers or donor sites. Hydrogel can also be used for second-degree burns and infected wounds. They maximise patient comfort and reduce pain through a cooling gel while helping to heal wounds or burns and fight infection.

Alginate Dressing

Alginate dressings are for wounds that have high amounts of drainage, burns, venous ulcers, packing wounds, and higher state pressure ulcers. These dressings absorb excess liquid and create a gel that helps to heal the wound or burn more quickly. You will need to change these dressings every two days, sometimes more, due to the amount of liquid that they absorb. These should only be used for wet wounds with high liquid drainage or else they can hinder healing by drying out wounds too quickly.

Collagen Dressing

They can be used for chronic wounds or stalled wounds, pressure sores, transplant sites, surgical wounds, ulcers, burns, or injuries with a large surface area. These dressings act as a scaffolding for new cells to grow and can be highly effective when it comes to healing. Collagen dressings help remove dead tissue, aiding the growth of new blood vessels and helping to bring the wound edges together, effectively speeding up healing.

Foam Dressing

For wounds of varying degrees of severity as well as for injuries that exhibit odours, foam dressings can work very well as they absorb exudates from the wound’s surface.  These dressings allow water vapour to enter which promotes faster healing, but prevent bacteria from entering the affected area. 

Transparent Dressing

These dressings cover the wound with a clear film, making it useful for medical professionals /carers to monitor wound healing. Medics can identify potential complications and spot infections earlier. These kinds of dressings are often used on surgical incision sites, on burns and ulcers, and on IV sites. These dressings are breathable but impermeable to bacteria, helping to keep the wound clean and dry; they are also flexible, which makes them comfortable to wear.

Cloth Dressing

Cloth dressings are the most commonly used dressings for open wounds,  areas of broken skin and minor injuries such as grazes and cuts. They  come in all shapes and sizes, from small coverings for fingers to larger ones for wounds. 

If you have a wound that needs urgent attention, contact our podiatrists at footinjuryclinic who will be able to clean and dress it appropriately.