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How To Clean A Wound - At Home First Aid

How To Clean A Wound - At Home First Aid

Apria Editorial |

The practice of treating wounds has been around for centuries. The ancient Greeks were among the first to recognize the significance of wound care, which had come a long way from magical potions and ointments to the comprehensive texts of Hippocrates and Celsus. The practice has seen numerous advancements throughout the 20th century. Today, more than five thousand wound care products are available on the market.

The importance of proper wound care in recovery cannot be overstated.

Proper wound care reduces scarring and minimizes infection while also accelerating the healing process. However, it is important to note that the wound healing process is complicated and delicate. Conditions such as diabetes, arterial or venous illness, infection, and age-related metabolic deficiencies can all contribute to inadequate wound healing.

Not sure how to clean a wound at home? Speed up the healing process with this step-by-step guide from ApriaHome to treat an open wound or cut!

Wound Care Basics

Wounds heal in two ways:

  • Regeneration: Damaged tissue is replaced by renewed tissue. This retains the natural function of the affected portion of the body.
  • Scar formation: Occurs when injured tissue is replaced with fibrous scar tissue, which often lacks the natural qualities of the original tissue.

Wound Care Step By Step

Although different wounds require different care routines, there are a few basic cleaning and aftercare tips for the most comfortable healing process.

How To Clean A Wound

NB: Do not attempt to remove anything embedded in the wound ‒ this should be left to the advice of a healthcare professional.

To clean a wound:

  • Disinfect your hands using soap or sanitizer; if possible, wear disposable surgical gloves. This is an important step before cleaning any wound and helps prevent infections.
  • Run water over the wound for 5 - 10 minutes. To clean around the wound, use a soft washcloth and mild soap.
  • Gently dab or wipe the area with a saline solution-soaked gauze or alcohol-free wipe. NB: Antiseptics can cause irritation or skin damage.
  • Gently pat the area dry with a clean and soft towel or tissue pad. NB: Avoid using something that can leave strands of material entangled in the wound. e.g. cotton wool balls or tissue paper.

For burns, rinse for 10 to 15 minutes with cool (not cold) water. Alternatively, apply a cold towel for the same amount of time. Consult a healthcare professional if any large blisters appear. Severe burns need very specific attention and should be handled with the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

Apply Light Pressure

This step is only necessary when the wound is actively bleeding. NB: In the case of burns, this is not necessary and can cause pain.

  • Gently press the wound area with a clean towel or sterile gauze until the bleeding stops.
  • Elevate the affected area if possible.
  • If blood seeps through, keep the gauze or cloth in place and apply another piece on top.

Apply Antibiotic Cream Or Ointment

Over-the-counter skin ointments and antibiotics will help keep the skin moist and prevent infection. You can apply these 1 to 3 times per day. Remember to disinfect your hands before and after applying the ointment:

  • Apply a small quantity of ointment or cream - no more than the size of a fingertip.
  • Spread in a thin layer to the skin and gently massage in.
  • A light coating will help your body's natural healing capability and help reduce scarring.

For burns or blisters that burst open, your doctor may prescribe a topical antibiotic.

Certain ingredients in these products cause adverse reactions in some people. If a rash emerges, discontinue the use of the cream or ointment immediately.

Cover The Wound With Clean Dressing Or Bandage

A dressing or bandage protects wounds and prevents infection while also facilitating recovery by retaining moisture. A sterile dressing can be used to stop excessive wound bleeding or to absorb small wound discharge.

NB: Not every wound needs to be bandaged or covered. Minor wounds or cuts can be left to heal alone.

  • A dressing should be wide enough to completely cover the wound, with a 2.5 cm safety margin on all sides.
  • Bandage and dressing should be changed approximately three times a week or as soon as the dressing becomes soiled.
  • Never wrap a bandage too tightly in a way that restricts blood flow or causes discomfort.

Your healthcare professional will advise on the frequency of dressing changes according to your wound, as well as the types of dressings needed.

Healthy Vs. Infected Wound

Look out for the following signs of infection:

  • Warmth: Wounds often feel warmer at the start of the healing process due to the white blood cells busy fighting off harmful bacteria and infections. However, if the wound is still warm to the touch after five days, it may be a sign that your body is fighting to keep a more serious infection at bay.
  • Redness: After an injury, you can expect the affected region to be swollen, painful, and red. This is natural since the body delivers oxygen and healing nutrients to the area by increasing blood flow. However, improper healing or infection reveals itself if the incision is still red and swollen after five days.
  • Discharge: Your wound should clear up after the initial release of pus and blood. However, if the discharge persists during the wound healing process and develops an unpleasant odor or seems discolored, it is most likely an indication of infection.
  • Pain: Pain is inevitable after an injury. If you have a deep wound, the pain is usually more intense. However, persistent pain indicates infection, particularly if it is not proportional to the extent of the injury. Your discomfort should subside with the use of pain medication. Any long-term, disproportionate pain or irritation should be examined.
  • Fever: Once an infection has entered your bloodstream, it will spread throughout your body, causing fever and overall discomfort. As soon as a fever is detected after a wound starts healing, it is an indication that an infection is present.

The following are indicators of healthy, normal wound healing:

  • Scabs: General cuts and puncture wounds heal in three stages: bleeding, clotting, and scabbing. If your wound is still bleeding after an extended amount of time and no scab has formed, you should seek medical attention.
  • Swelling: Swelling indicates that the immune system is working to heal your wound. The blood vessels dilate to allow more blood flow and to deliver oxygen, vitamins, and nutrients to your injury site. This stage should not last more than five days.
  • Tissue Growth: After the swelling subsides, new tissue develops over the wound, which usually takes a few weeks.
  • Scarring: This demonstrates that healing has occurred. The first scab will come away, leaving you with a scar. Scar tissue can sometimes gradually subside, but serious injuries can leave a scar for many years.

Wound Care Do's & Dont's

Wound Care Do's

To facilitate proper wound healing, the following should be adhered to:

  • Regularly examine the surrounding region for dryness, cracks, bruises, reddish spots, and blisters.
  • Rinse the wound using water immediately, then wash the area with light soap and pat dry.
  • Handle the skin lightly, without stretching or straining it unnecessarily.
  • Use gentle, fragrance-free, pH-balanced products at all times.
  • Ensure wounds and surrounding regions are kept dry at all times.
  • Wear gentle fabrics when wounds come into contact with clothing.
  • Keep your skin's elasticity and hydration by drinking plenty of water and moisturizing regularly.
  • To minimize scarring, wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 once the wound has healed.
  • Increase your protein consumption. Protein forms the foundation of growth factors, which your body uses to heal and repair itself. Consume three to four servings of protein every day. Low protein levels will slow wound healing significantly.

Wound Care Dont's

To facilitate proper wound growth, the following should be avoided:

  • Applying a topical antibiotic without first consulting a healthcare professional.
  • Applying commercial antiseptics, such as iodine, to a small scrape or minor wound.
  • Scratching, picking, or rubbing the injured area should be avoided.
  • Touching wounds with dirty hands or without using surgical gloves.
  • Bathing without wound protection.
  • Directly applying soap, shower gel, powder, body lotion, cologne, make-up, or other cosmetic products to your wound.

When To Consult A Healthcare Professional

To avoid complications, seek medical advice in the following circumstances:

  • Persistent bleeding
  • Large or deep wounds
  • Wounds too painful to clean effectively
  • Injuries close to a large blood vessel or joint
  • Signs of infection
  • Injury caused by animal bites
  • Wounds on the genital region
  • Injury to the head or face
  • Wounds with severely jagged edges
  • Punctures or wounds caused by rusted metal

Take Care Of Your Health & Skin ‒ Be Prepared For Wounds With ApriaHome

Accidents happen, injury can occur at any moment, and preparation is essential. ApriaHome has curated some of the most effective and affordable wound care essentials available on the market. Browse our secure online medical equipment and supply platform from the convenience of your home.

The ApriaHome Home Wound Care Starter Kit:

You'll find all of these and a comprehensive selection of wound care products when you visit our online platform. Looking for something specific? Our agents are available on call from 8:00 am - 10:00 pm EST daily. For more information, get in touch at 888-932-0418.

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Material in this newsletter is only: (1) provided for general health education and informational purposes, and to provide references to other resources; it may not apply to you as an individual. While Apria believes that the information provided through this communication is accurate and reliable, Apria cannot and does not make any such guarantee. It is not intended to be a replacement for professional medical advice, evaluation, diagnosis, services or treatment (collectively, "medical treatment"). Please see your healthcare provider for medical treatment related to you and your specific health condition(s). Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read on or accessed through this website. Reading this newsletter should not be construed to mean that you have a healthcare provider/patient relationship with Apria.