When it comes to caring for a wound, most people turn to the tried and true method of irrigating with a sterile liquid like rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, washing with soap and water, topping with painful iodine, and wrapping with gauze and tape. This works pretty well for minor cuts and scrapes, or anything that can easily be patched up with a band-aid and a motherly kiss.
More serious wounds, however, require more serious care. Especially in the case where medical professionals are involved, as maintaining sterile conditions is vital for the health and recovery of the patient. When it comes to the proper procedure for dressing a wound it’s best to get it right the first time to avoid the risk of infection which can delay recovery, or lead to even worse conditions.
Basic Wound Care
- Wash Up
Before attempting any sort of wound care, it’s important to wash your hands in order to avoid introducing any contaminants to the wound. Use a sterile soap and lather up for at least thirty seconds. A good measure of time is to sing a simple song, such as happy birthday, to pass the time while soaping up.
- Wear Gloves
After rinsing your hands with warm water, apply some sterile gloves. When slipping into these gloves it’s important to maintain as little contact as possible with the fingertips and palms. Instead, pull on the gloves from the cuff while sliding your fingers into place. After putting on the gloves be sure to avoid contact with anything other than the wound you will be dressing.
- Assess the Wound
Define the type of abrasion you will be dressing. Is the bleeding minimal? Is it a scrape of skin? If there is minor bleeding and no need for stitches then the wound can be dressed easily. If more serious care is needed a visit to a professional may be necessary.
- Have the Proper Materials
For a minor abrasion it’s important to have items such as water (for irrigation), antibiotic ointment, sterile gauze, medical tape, or band-aids if the abrasion is small enough. Make sure your materials are easily on-hand and ready to go before attempting to dress the wound.
- Look for Signs of Infection
Fever, fatigue, discoloration around the wound, excessive swelling, pain, tenderness, and oozing puss from the wound are all signs that the abrasion may be infected and in need of more serious treatment. Before simply attempting to patch up the cut with a dab of ointment and a band-aid it’s important to address the infection to avoid more serious health concerns.
- Focus on the Wound
Apply pressure to the wound for at least 10 seconds to stop the bleeding, or until you can see the bleeding has slowed considerably. Wash the abrasion with sterile soap and water, and clean around the wound to remove excess dirt and anything that could cause infection. Once the wound is clean, apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment and follow with your gauze dressing or band-aid.
Keep it Clean
Maintaining a sterile environment is vital, whether tending to a wound directly, or working in the field of wound care manufacturing materials. Sterile materials and a clean working environment will keep the risk of infection low while also promoting a quick recovery.