Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wound Care Basics

Have you noticed how high tech band-aids and wound care have become?  Yesterday, I dropped an enormous chopping knife on my toe.  Thankfully I had recently read about wound care in the February 2012 issue of the Wellness Letter, published by the University of California, Berkeley, so I knew just what to do:
  1. Stop the bleeding by using a clean cloth or gauze to apply pressure.  If the injury is a deep puncture wound, such as a nail would cause, allow it to bleed a little to cleanse it.
  2. Cleanse the wound by holding it under cool running water, if possible.  (Thankfully I’m in good enough shape to maneuver my toe into the sink.  One more good reason to exercise and do those stretches!)  Irrigation is what prevents infection. You may use soap around the cut, but not on it.  Remove any debris with tweezers.
  3. Keep the wound moist and clean with an adhesive bandage.  We were told years ago to keep the wound dry and expose it to air, but experts now know that moisture is more beneficial and will help prevent scarring.  Any variety of bandages you prefer is sufficient, as standard, unmedicated band-aids or regular gauze and tape are fine.
  4. Use your own judgment about antibiotic creams, as the experts are not in agreement.  Bacitracin, neomycin and the like are not necessary and should be discontinued if they cause skin irritation.  Avoid betadine at concentrations greater than 1%, rubbing alcohol, iodine, and hydrogen peroxide, as they can damage the skin.
  5. Finally, see a doctor for a) a tetanus shot if you have a puncture wound and it’s been longer than five years since your last injection, b) any bite that breaks the skin, c) wounds where the bleeding won’t stop, d) cuts you can’t clean yourself, and e) symptoms such as redness, swelling or fever, signs of infection.

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