About wound care
There are many different types of wounds. The most common wounds that we see here at the clinic are surgical wounds. The type of wound can be affected by its location, how it was formed and the condition of the wound. Caring for your surgical wound will depend on what type of wound you have.
Firstly, let’s compare the most common wound types and their features.
Caring for a clean wound
Clean wounds most commonly occur from surgical procedures. They are clean incisions in the skin because they were made in a sterile manner. Generally, sterile wounds heal easily because they are not being interfered with by infection, the edges of the wound match up well and they have been secured by sutures.
When caring for your clean wound at home, it is important to wash your hands before and after the procedure. At first, you may need to clean the wound with saline to get rid of any crusts. Saline is salt water. You can buy saline, or make it up yourself at home to use with clean cotton wool:
1 teaspoon of non-iodised salt
1 cup of cooled water that has been boiled
Eventually, you will just wash the wound as you would anything else in the shower. There is no need to use any antiseptic type solutions or oils. In the community, it is important to reduce the amount of antimicrobials we use: we have lots of helpful flora on our skin that gets killed with antimicrobial products. Antibacterial creams can also hurt cells in our skin helping the wound to heal.
After you have cleaned it, you might need to cover it with a special dressing until the wound has healed more. Some wounds take a long time to completely heal, but the wound should be closed soon after your procedure.
Nasal, mouth and throat wounds
Surgical wounds in the nasal, mouth and throat cavity are considered to be clean but contaminated. They are not infected, but because of their location in an area with lots of microbes, they are not sterile. During surgery, care is always taken to reduce the risk of infection and to be as clean as possible. Examples of surgeries that have these types of wounds are endoscopic sinus surgery, septoplasty, adenoidectomy and tonsillectomy.
To care for these surgical wounds at home, the goal is to help clear away crusting and clots, which may increase your risk of infection and discomfort. Sinus flushes after nasal surgery and salt water gargles after a tonsillectomy are examples of wound care for these types of surgical wounds. The water for these rinses does not need to be sterile, as the nose and throat are not sterile environments.
Signs of infection
With any wound, watch out for signs of infection. The warning signs include:
- Redness, ooze and/or an odour
- Swelling and heat
- An increase in pain
- A temperature above 38.5
- A rapid heart rate
- Nausea and vomiting
If you notice any of these signs, see your doctor immediately.
In the mean time, using saline clean any excess discharge away with from the wound and put a dressing on it to absorb any ooze. Change the dressing if it is soiled.
For a free Dermalogica Face-mapping Skin Analysis and to discuss holistic skin care, make an appointment with our skincare nurse Alex. Contact us today.
Wounds – How to care for them: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au