Have you ever had any cuts or scrapes in your life? Most likely, you have. Do you know whether it’s better to keep a wound covered or allow it to breathe?
Although wounds are usually amenable to home treatment, certain persistent wound-care issues have caused medical professionals to debate the answers. As a result, an essay in American Family Physician, the journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians, offered some answers earlier this year. Three experts from Thomas Jefferson University evaluated a number on wound care research and developed recommendations based on the findings for the study. Here are some key takeaways.
1. Is it possible to get my stitches wet?
It turns out that getting your sutures wet isn’t nearly as dangerous as we previously thought. People who got their stitched wounds wet within 12 hours in one study didn’t have any more infections than those who kept their wounds dry for 48 hours, according to the article. Another study found that washing a wound within 24 hours did not lead to infection or the stitches breaking open.
However, I believe the research was incomplete. It’s more about how wet the wound is. Clean water may be fine, but I’d avoid polluting it with filthy water. Taking a bath or shower and drying the injury thoroughly afterwards, for example, might be acceptable, but not swimming in a lake.
The other key consideration is how long you can keep it wet. I’d be hesitant to soak it for more than a few seconds because the sutures may break, even with these studies.
2. Should I air the wound out?
The studies show that wounds heal faster if they are kept damp in their own fluids. Scabbing and tissue cell dehydration occur as a result of drying, which slows down healing considerably.
Keep in mind that they’re talking about the actual wound, not the uninjured tissue surrounding it. According to me, you should strive to keep the unaffected skin dry so that the sutures don’t macerate (soften) as much.
To me, yes, it’s a good idea to keep the wound moist enough so that a big scab doesn’t form, but airing it out for a few minutes might help the uninjured areas stay dry.
I don’t consider dry healing of a wound to be an issue in one that has been properly sutured and does not ooze. I believe the tissue fluids are more significant with big wounds and abrasions, as well as deep burns. You may cover the actual injury with a nonstick dressing, customizing it based on the size of the wound. Then apply a layer of gauze that isn’t water-resistant on top. Tape it all down.
If the dressing becomes wet externally, change it. Because external dampness might macerate uninjured skin, do so as soon if not sooner than necessary. Even if the dressing appears dry, replace it once a day to observe for signs of infection.
The primary function of the dressing, of course, is to protect and clean the wounded area.
3. Should I always use antibiotic ointment?
The study discovered that over-the-counter antibacterial ointments may prevent infection, especially in wounds that are considered slightly unclean (even if you’ve cleaned them well). However, whether you use ointment or not, the incidence of infection is very low in wounds from a clean incision that aren’t too deep.
What was your experience with it?
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