Caring for Someone with Wounds

Moist wound healing is the most common term you will hear from your doctor when it comes to caring for someone with wounds. This type of healing is considered the standard protocol when it comes to treatment. It was a commonly held belief for many years that keeping a wound dry was the best course of action, but years of research have proven this incorrect. Here are some important things you should know when it comes to caring for someone with wounds.

Moist Wound Healing

A patient's body will create new cells to help the wound heal. Keeping the wound site (or "wound bed") moist allows this to happen more efficiently. If the wound site is dry, new cells can't travel across it as well. A moist wound site allows the cells to move across the wound more efficiently. A wound bed that is too moist will actually hinder the healing process, because it can flush new cells away. Keeping the wound covered with a sterile dressing also prevents contamination.

Types of Wound Dressings

The type of dressing used on a wound will be recommended by the patient's doctor. The type of dressing will depend on the type of wound. Gauze and occlusive dressings are the most common types used, and can be purchased over the counter. Occlusive dressings are considered the best type for maintaining a moist wound bed or for keeping antibiotic creams on the wound. Other dressing types include compression dressings, biological dressings, chemical debriding agents and calcium alginates. These dressings are typically by prescription only, and are usually applied by a medical professional.

Preventing Infection

Always wash your hands before assisting with a wound patient. Remove any rings from your hands, and scrub your hands with soap and hot water for at least 30 seconds. Sterile gloves can also be worn if you have them available. Good hand hygiene is essential for preventing infection of a wound. Signs of infection include redness and swelling around the wound, fever and increased pain. If you notice signs of infection starting to set in, contact the patient's doctor.

Cleaning the Wound

A saline solution is considered the best product for cleaning a patient's wound. Doctors will sometimes prescribe a special antibiotic treatment in addition to saline. The saline solution should be applied around the edges of the wound, with the liquid allowed to drain over the wound. Don't spray the solution directly on the wound, because this can tear the wound or wash away healing cells.

Bathing a Wound Patient

If the patient has sutures or exposed bones, the doctor will likely advise against getting the wound wet while bathing. Normally it is alright for a patient to bathe or shower, as long as the wound is not exposed to water under pressure (such as a whirlpool or spray from a shower). If a patient is unable to bathe himself, a sponge bath is recommended. If a patient is unable to stand up and shower on his own while keeping the wound area away from the stream of water, the wound area can be covered with a plastic bag to keep it dry.

Nutrition and Wound Care

Poor nutrition can dramatically slow down wound healing. Proper nutrition that includes plenty of protein are essential. A well-rounded and healthy diet can help a patient's body generate new cells to heal a wound, and can also help fight infection.

Watch for Pressure Ulcers

Pressure ulcers can develop in patients who are restricted to a wheelchair or bed while they are healing from a wound. Check skin surfaces on a daily basis and, if possible, help the patient to regularly change their position. Your doctor can also recommend light stretching exercises (for non-wounded areas) to help improve the patient's circulation. Skin moisturizers will keep the skin nourished and can help prevent pressure ulcers from forming. Nutrition also plays a role in the prevention of ulcers.

Work closely with the patient's doctor to help care for wounds. Following the doctor's advice closely is the best way to ensure that wound healing progresses smoothly.

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