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Wound Care Basics

Cleaning Your Wound | Dressing Your Wound | When to call a Doctor

· Wound Warriors

How to Clean A Wound

  • Put on a new pair of non-sterile gloves.
  • Use a clean, soft washcloth to gently clean your wound with warm water and soap. Your wound should not bleed much when you are cleaning it. A small amount of blood is OK.
  • Rinse your wound with water. Gently pat it dry with a clean towel. DO NOT rub it dry. In some cases, you can even rinse the wound while showering.
  • Check the wound for increased redness, swelling, or a bad odor.
  • Pay attention to the color and amount of drainage from your wound. Look for drainage that has become darker or thicker.
  • After cleaning your wound, remove your gloves and put them in the plastic bag with the old dressing and gloves.
  • Wash hands again

How to Dress A Wound

  • Put on a new pair of non-sterile gloves.
  • Pour saline into a clean bowl. Place gauze pads and any packing tape you will use in the bowl.
  • Squeeze the saline from the gauze pads or packing tape until it is no longer dripping.
  • Place the gauze pads or packing tape in your wound. Carefully fill in the wound and any spaces under the skin.
  • Cover the wet gauze or packing tape with a large dry dressing pad. Use tape or rolled gauze to hold this dressing in place.
  • Put all used supplies in the plastic bag. Close it securely, then put it in a second plastic bag, and close that bag securely. Put it in the trash.
  • Wash your hands again when you are finished.

When To Call A Doctor

  • Worsening redness
  • More pain
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • It is larger or deeper
  • It looks dried out or dark
  • The drainage is increasing
  • The drainage has a bad smell

Also call your doctor if:

  • Your temperature is 100.5°F (38°C), or higher, for more than 4 hours
  • Drainage is coming from or around the wound
  • Drainage is not decreasing after 3 to 5 days
  • Drainage is increasing
  • Drainage becomes thick, tan, yellow, or smells bad

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