The do’s and don’ts of wound care: fact vs. fiction

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Proper wound care is essential for optimal healing and to prevent infection. Regrettably, a great many common practices are based more on tradition or myth than medical facts, hindering the healing process. Knowing what to do, and what not to do, will give your body the best opportunity to repair itself effectively.

The essential (the dos)

  • Stop the bleeding. For minor wounds, direct pressure for two minutes with a clean cloth or bandage is usually sufficient. More significant bleeding may require you to elevate the injury if possible and seek medical attention.
  • Clean the wound. Thoroughly rinse the wound with clean, running water (ideally cool or lukewarm). Gentle liquid wash and warm water can be used to clean the surrounding skin.
  • Protect the healing tissue. Cover the wound with woven gauze secured with a bandage or breathable dressing. The gauze should be wet through with Trifectiv Plus Wound & Burn Care. A dressing keeps the wound moist (promoting healing) and reduces infection risk. Change dressings at least daily or sooner if they become soiled.
  • Monitor for infection. Signs of infection include redness spreading beyond the wound, swelling, warmth, pain, pus, or fever. See a doctor if you notice any of these.

Outdated myths and practices to avoid (the don’ts)

  • "Let it air out": While it was once thought that airing out a wound was beneficial, we now know that a moist environment promotes faster and better healing. Dressings protect the wound while facilitating cell regeneration.
  • Hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol: These harsh antiseptics can harm healthy tissue and slow down the healing process. Stick to gentle cleansing with water and a mild liquid cleanser.
  • Antibiotic ointments for every wound: The overuse of antibiotic creams can contribute to antibiotic resistance. For most minor wounds, simple cleaning and protection are sufficient. Antibiotic ointments are never appropriate as they have been implicated in the development of bacterial resistance. It is better to use a new-generation wound treatment product like Trifectiv Plus Wound & Burn Care.
  • "It needs to scab over":  Scabs create a dry environment that can hinder healing. Modern dressings maintain optimal moisture levels.

Home remedies: use with caution

While home remedies can be helpful, some are best avoided:

  • Honey: while honey is known for its antibacterial properties it is also osmotic which means it pulls moisture out of the wound, which significantly impedes and compromises healing. Honey can also potentially introduce contaminants to the wound.
  • Aloe Vera: the gel from an aloe vera plant may offer soothing and anti-inflammatory benefits for mild burns or wounds. However, it is not a substitute for proper wound cleaning and dressing.
  • Tea tree oil: Sometimes used as a natural antiseptic, tea tree oil can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in people. If you do try it, always dilute it properly.
  • Vinegar, salt pastes, and other concoctions: These can irritate and further damage injured tissue – avoid using them on wounds.

Waterproof dressings: not the best choice

Waterproof dressings seem convenient, but they have downsides:

  • They can lead to maceration in the wound. Discharge from the wound (exudate) should be absorbed by the dressing or it will start to break down healthy tissue and delay healing.
  • They trap moisture which becomes an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, leading to infection.
  • You cannot easily monitor the wound for signs of trouble without removing the dressing, potentially disrupting the newly forming tissues.

Waterproof dressings might be useful for short-term situations (e.g. while showering), but non-waterproof and breathable options are our recommendation for successful wound healing.

When to seek medical attention

While cuts and scrapes can be managed at home, sometimes you will need to visit your doctor or emergency room:

  • Deep wounds or if tendons or bone are visible.
  • Wounds that will not stop bleeding.
  • Large or heavily contaminated wounds.
  • Animal or human bites.
  • With a bite or sting from a venomous snake, spider or scorpion, or if you are having an allergic reaction (trouble breathing, swelling beyond the site of the sting) in the case of a bee, wasp, etc.
  • Wounds showing signs of infection (listed above)
  • Any wound in someone with diabetes or a weakened immune system.

The bottom line

Optimal wound care involves a balance between protecting the wound and promoting a healthy healing environment. When in doubt, simple is best – clean it, spray Trifectiv Plus Wound & Burn Care on the wound, cover it, and keep an eye on it. Consult with a medical professional anytime you are unsure, in the case of a severe wound or burn, or in an emergency.

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