Smaller wounds can be treated at home

21. August 2014

The claims that wounds go bad in August or that wounds should never come into contact with water are untrue, says Kristina Anstal, Head Nurse of the Centre of General and Oncological Surgery at East-Tallinn Central Hospital.

Before you start treating a wound with disinfectant, you have to clean it – and the best solution for this in the case of small wounds is using ordinary running water and soap. Only then, after the dirt has been washed out of the wound, should it be cleaned with a non-alcoholic antiseptic.

A plaster isn’t always necessary

A superficial wound or abrasion doesn’t need to be covered with a bandage or plaster after cleaning. However, it is advisable to put a plaster on a deeper wound, which will develop a scab when healing and which tends to rub against clothes. Wound gel, cream or salve can also be used to treat deeper wounds, as they create an environment of optimal moisture on the surface of the wound and thereby promote healing. When the wound starts healing nicely, it is not necessary to treat it with an antiseptic or any other would treatment on subsequent days.

However, if the edges of the wound are red, there is a sensation of burning, swelling is increasing or the wound has become infected, then treatment must be continued with a wound salve or with antibiotics prescribed by your (family) doctor. You shouldn’t delay in seeing a doctor if the wound really looks bad. It may be necessary to do some tests and prescribe antibacterial treatment. Your doctor may send you to wound treatment specialists, which requires a referral.

Those insidious bites

Whether or not a wound requires stitches depends on the depth of the wound. Superficial wounds, even if they are rather large, can be closed using a special plaster. In the case of deep wounds, bleeding often will not stop unless the wound stitched up, so seeking medical help is unavoidable.

If a wound that needs stitches is very dirty, it cannot be stitched up in full, as this will prevent the wound from cleaning itself. In this case only the edges of the wound are closed.

Animal bites create insidious wounds – even if two little holes created by teeth are the only visible things, these holes can go deep. These wounds also tend to become infected, as the saliva of animals (cats in particular) pollutes the wound. This is why bites must be closely monitored – redness, fever and discharge are signs of infection and your doctor will have to prescribe the necessary treatment. It is best not to pick off the scab that forms on the wound, as you risk being left with an ugly scar.

Individual characteristics

The individual characteristics of a patient play an important role in how their wounds heal – whether they have any concurrent diseases, what their age is, what their immune system is like and so on. The speed at which a wound heals also depends on its location. Wounds in areas with a good blood supply (such as the head) heal well – any stitches can usually be removed in three to five days. Stitches in very mobile places are kept in for up to two weeks.

Good wound treatment tips

Hydrogen peroxide is not the first choice in wound treatment, as it is toxic to wound tissue and obstructs the self-healing of the skin. Antiseptic liquids should be used instead, as they do not dry out or damage the wound or the surrounding skin. Camomile tea can make the situation worse in the case of eye infections, as the wet and warm environment is a good breeding ground for microbes, and camomile is also an allergen.

Source: Eesti Päevaleht