Do you know the best way to treat common injuries, such as cuts, scrapes and minor burns? How about knowing when to make a call to get medical help for a more serious wound?
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Myth: You should always clean wounds with either rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
Fact: While it’s true that antiseptics can kill harmful bacteria, they also may damage surrounding healthy tissue. New tissue is especially susceptible to harsh antiseptics because it’s more sensitive than mature skin, Mr. Minior says.
“When it comes to cleaning superficial wounds, good old-fashioned soap and water is the way to go,” he says.
The best practice: For fresh wounds, wash out your wound with a large quantity of warm, soapy water as soon as possible. It is also OK to get in the shower and let copious warm, soapy water flow through the wound.
Myth: Keeping a wound dry is the best way to help it heal
Fact: “People think that irrigating wounds can lead to infection, but that’s just not true,” Mr. Minior says. “The best way to prevent infection is by washing it out more frequently – the solution to pollution is dilution.”
The best practice: For minor wounds, cleanse the affected location with a copious quantity of warm, soapy water at least once a day. In more complicated wounds, e.g. pressure sores, your provider may have you wash out the wound two to three times a day to help prevent infection.
Myth: You should keep wounds covered at all times
Fact: Bandages are helpful tools for keeping your wound clean. They also help maintain a moist environment that promotes healing. But that doesn’t mean you should put on a bandage and not take it off, Mr. Minior says.
The best practice: Remove the bandage or dressing at least once a day to cleanse your wound. Once the wound has been irrigated and cleaned, apply a new bandage.
When to visit a doctor or hospital for wound care
You can typically take care of wounds at home without medical intervention. But not always. The following scenarios, which are more serious, typically require medical attention.
Visit a hospital Emergency Department (ED) if the wound:
- Is very deep, or it exposes bone, organs or blood vessels
- Bleeds significantly, even after you have applied pressure
Seek help at the urgent care center or the ED if:
- The wound is from an animal or human bite, or from a dirty or rusty object.
Talk to your doctor as soon as possible if:
- Your symptoms get worse. (This may include worsening pain, new or worsening redness or discharge, or fever.)
- Your wound isn’t healing. (See a doctor if it has gone for more than 30 days without healing.)
If a clinician has treated your wound but your condition hasn’t improved in 90 days, you should consider getting a second opinion, possibly with a surgeon, Mr. Minior says.