When it comes to wounds, there is a lot of confusion regarding the best way to care for them. As soon as our body is injured, it begins to heal itself. Doing the right thing can speed up this process while doing the wrong thing can slow it down and even encourage scars to form. Here is a list of good wound care tips.
1. Keep it covered
Some people believe that wounds need to dry out and form a scab in order to heal. Scab formation is our body’s way to create a covering for a wound. However, if we provide a covering for the wound before a scab is formed and continue to leave that covering in place, it will heal faster and leave less of a scar.
2. Do not apply alcohol or peroxide
Many people erroneously apply alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and other agents to wounds. Applying these chemicals to a wound will only prolong the healing of the wound. The thought is that if the hydrogen peroxide is bubbling, then the wound must be infected. However, the hydrogen peroxide will bubble in the presence of the iron in blood cells and has nothing to do with whether a wound is infected or not. In an attempt to clean the wound or kill bacteria, people will apply alcohol, however, the alcohol will kill the newly formed cells the body is making to heal the wound as well. If a wound is actually infected, cleaning it out with saline is actually better.
3. White petrolatum (Vaseline) is better than antibiotic creams
Believe it or not, plain Vaseline or Aquaphore healing ointment is better than using antibiotic creams and salves. Vaseline acts as a barrier to infection and helps the body heal the wound. Antibiotic creams can produce irritation to the wound and some people can be allergic to them without knowing it. Therefore, avoid applying antibiotic creams and salves.
4. Keep the healing wound out of the sun
Sun exposure to a healing wound will cause it to take longer to heal and make any scarring potentially worse. The sun interferes with the body’s natural healing mechanism making it take longer to heal the wound.
5. Change bandages daily
Change the bandage at least once a day. Clean the area with mild soap and water, apply more Vaseline and another bandage until the wound is completely healed. Take the bandage off gently to avoid ripping open the wound if it has become stuck onto the bandage.
6. Do not pick off the scab
If a scab does form, avoid pulling it off. This will re-injure and open the wound. Instead, apply Vaseline directly onto the scab and cover it with a bandage. The scab will soften and come off on its own.
There are several myths about proper wound care. Some of them actually can cause the wound to take longer to heal and result in an unsightly scar. Proper wound care will aid in healing the wound faster and with less of a scar. Keep the wound covered throughout healing, avoid applying alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, and avoid antibiotic creams and sunlight to promote good wound healing.