How to dress a wound in 60 seconds

Brianna Graham, MSN, RN-BC, ONC, offers step-by-step instruction for safely treating a basic abrasion.

Wash. 

Before dressing the patient’s wound, wash your own hands with a gentle soap. If you have gloves handy, put them on.

Press. 

Using a clean washcloth or clean 4x4 gauze pads, apply pressure to the wound until the bleeding subsides. If the bleeding does not discontinue after five minutes, you should seek additional medical attention.

Clean.

Clean the wound each day with a mild soap and water. Choose a soap that does not contain any fragrance, dye or antibacterial ingredients. You may choose to put hydrogen peroxide on the wound, but it can burn and isn’t entirely necessary. Never use alcohol, as that will create an intense burning sensation.

Dry.

Pat the area dry with a clean towel or gauze pads. Be careful not to rub or wipe, but gently dab the area.

Dress.

Depending on the nature of the wound, you can choose to cover it until a scab forms or leave it open. If you decide to cover it, use a bandage or gauze and medical tape, being careful not to put any adhesive on the wound. Avoid touching the cloth part of the bandage so you don’t contaminate it. Don’t enclose the bandage on all four sides.

The body has an innate ability to heal through scab formation, so allowing that process to take place is good. Avoid swimming or sitting in the bath tub, which can cause the scab to come off. Also, avoid picking at the scab, as this can disrupt the healing process and cause infection.

What to watch for.

If you notice any signs or symptoms of infection, call your physician immediately. These symptoms include intense redness around the wound site, if it becomes hot to the touch, discolored or foul-smelling drainage or any type of fever or sharp increase in pain.

If the cut involved any metal or rusty objects, make your physician aware, as the patient may need a tetanus shot.

 

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