Caring for Your Wound
Healthy skin is a natural barrier that prevents infection. A break in your skin makes it possible for germs to enter your body. Covering your wound will help to keep it clean and heal faster.
Changing Your Dressing
- Gather the supplies you will need for your dressing change:
- Trash bag
- Wound cleanser
- Hand washing supplies
- Tape or gauze wrap to hold your dressing in place
- Wash your hands with soap and water. Put on gloves if available.
- Prepare a clean working area.
- Take your dressing off carefully. Throw away the old dressing in a trash bag. Try to keep the wound clean.
- Look at your wound closely. Look for any foul odors; change in color or amount of drainage; redness or swelling around the wound; or redness spreading away from the wound.
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Clean your wound using the cleanser prescribed by your healthcare provider.
- Put on a new dressing.
- Put the plastic bag with the old dressing in another plastic bag and put directly in the trash. This is called ‘double bagging’.
- Wash your hands one last time with soap and water.
- Change your dressing as directed by the Wound Care Center® staff or if it gets dirty or wet.
- Do not put anything into an open wound that is not prescribed by your physician.
- Change your dressing as close to hand washing facilities as possible.
Storing Your Dressing Supplies
- Always keep your clean dressings in a storage container that has a lid and is kept off of the floor away from children and pets. A plastic container with a lid or clean large plastic bag that can be tied shut will be best.
- When preparing a clean working area, use a paper towel or other clean cover to put your supplies on. DO NOT put supplies directly on a table or bed.
Helping Your Wound Heal
- Keep the outside of your dressing clean and dry. If it becomes soiled or wet, change it as soon as possible.
- Keep your body clean. Bathe daily with soap and water as allowed by your wound care provider. Change your dressing after your bath or shower.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Follow special dietary or fluid restrictions that your doctor has discussed.
- Examine your wound carefully every time you remove your dressing. Immediately report any changes to your Wound Care Center staff.
The Proper Way to Wash Hands
- Remove your jewelry before washing your hands so that the spaces between your fingers can be cleaned and dried.
- Adjust the water temperature and lather your hands with soap.
- Rub your hands together, cleaning the front and back of each hand up to the wrist and between all fingers for 20 seconds (sing the Happy Birthday song 2 times or the chorus of Yankee Doodle is about 20 seconds).
- Rinse well.
- If possible turn the faucets off with a paper towel or towel.
When Should You Call the Wound Care Center Staff Immediately?
If you notice:
- Increased pain at the wound site
- Excess drainage wets the dressing before it is time to change the dressing
- Redness or swelling around or spreading away from the wound
- Foul odor coming from the wound
- Change in color or amount of drainage from the wound
- Fever and chills
- Nausea or vomiting
Bryant, R. & Nix, D. (2007). Acute & chronic wounds: current management concepts (3rd ed). St. Louis: Mosby.
Krasner, D., Rodeheaver, G. & Sibbald, R.G (Eds) (2007). Chronic wound care: a source book for healthcare professionals (4th ed.) Malvern: HMP