Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on Wound and Skin Care
1. Should I let my wound be open to air?
No, wound healing best occurs when the wound bed is kept moist. A moist environment allows good bacteria to function to prevent infection and encourages healing cells to do their job to cover the wound with new skin. A dressing is needed to provide and maintain the right moisture balance for healing. It also protects the wound from contamination from the environment.
2. Can I get my wound wet in the shower?
Yes, unless you have sutures (stitches), staples, exposed bone, or your doctor has advised against it. Make sure you ask before your shower or bathe. If you need to keep your wound dry, use a garbage bag or some sort of plastic cover to keep it dry when you shower. Typically, you should not be “soaking” your wound.
3. What if I forget to change my wound dressing?
As soon as you remember, change your dressing. Be careful in removing it, just in case it is stuck to the wound. Use enough water to soak if off if it is stuck, so that it comes off without causing you any pain. Then redress your wound as the doctor has directed.
4. How do I cleanse my wound?
You can cleanse your wound using normal saline (saltwater) or a special Wound cleanser prescribed by your doctor.
5. Can I use a whirlpool to clean my wound?
No, water under pressure may drive bacteria (germs) into the wound tissue. We do not typically recommend whirlpool on a regular basis or home spas.
6. If I get dry skin, can I use lotion?
Yes, skin that is kept moist is less likely to break down. But do not put skin lotion in the wound. If you have skin that is broken open, please ask the doctor for a recommendation on how to care for the wound.
7. What kind of skin lotion does the Center for Wound Care suggest?
Any kind of lotion that is an emollient, which puts moisture back into the skin instead of covering the skin as another layer. Do not use petroleum jelly, because it forms a separate layer. Examples of emollients that may be used are Curel Moisturizing, Nivea, Neutrogena, A&D ointment, Vitamin A&D, Eucerin Moisturizing, Keri Lotion & Lubriderm. To name but a few.
8. Will the sun’s rays or a sun lamp help my skin?
No. These will dry out the wound bed and the goal is to keep the wound bed moist. In addition, skin may be burned and cause other problems. Make sure if you plan to be outdoors that you use sun protection especially on you feet.
9. What does it mean if an area of my skin changes color?
Some skin changes are not harmful, but others, like redness, can be a sign of problems. Inspect the skin around the wound daily for any changes. Show any changes, especially redness, promptly to your health care provider.
10. Can I use betadine or hydrogen peroxide on my wound?
No. The Center for Wound Care does not recommend these solutions because they kill healthy cells.
11. If I am a diabetic, is it important to keep my blood sugar in control to heal my wound?
Yes, it is very important. High blood sugar can slow down or prevent Wound healing. Discuss with your physician who manages your diabetes medications what is you target range. You may also contact the American Diabetes Association for the latest recommendations in blood sugar control and Hemoglobin A1C levels.
12. What other things should I be reporting to my wound care doctor?
Please inform your doctor of any of the following:
- Pain from your wound
- Increase in drainage from your wound
- High blood sugar if you are a diabetic
- Redness in the skin around your wound
- Bleeding from your wound
- Changes in your body temperature, blood pressure or mental orientation
- Need for dressing supplies
- Any new wounds you find on your body
- Any changes in your medications
- Difficulty in completing the prescribed dressing changes
- Any questions or concerns you have about your wound care!
Any wound that has not started to heal in two weeks or completely healed in eight weeks may benefit from a specialized wound care center.
Do you have questions about the Wound Health Center at Palomar Health in North San Diego County? Learn about Hyperbaric Oxygen, the Types of Wounds We Treat, Contact Us or Find Our Location(s).