Wound treatment and care

Almost each one of us has or will experience an open wound at some point in life. Cut with sharp objects or tools, falls, accidents involving vehicles are some of the common causes of wounds. An injury which breaks the surface of skin (break in body tissue) leads to an open wound.
Most of us don’t bother to take care or care minimum (unless it’s a major injury) if there is a cut or injury to the skin as this a very normal thing associated with our daily life. But an open wound unattended whether minor or major can lead to serious complications. So watch out!
Let’s explore to understand wound infection better and prevent serious health complications

How an open wound turns into an infection?

Almost all wound infections are caused by bacteria which originate from skin or from outside, invade the broken skin causing wound infection. The most common bacteria to cause skin infection is Staphylococcus aureus.
During an injury the protective skin barrier is disrupted and microbes colonize at the site of injury blocking wound healing. This delay wound healing by promoting inflammation which may ultimately lead to life threatening chronic wounds.
Also, leaving the wound open without proper medication/dressing or unhygienic wound dressing can increase the risk of wound infection.

Signs & symptoms of wound infection

Delay in healing, redness, pus release, swelling, foul-smelling pus, wound area becomes bigger or deeper, fever over 100 degrees F for more than four hours and constant pain are some of the signs & symptoms of wound infection.

Who is at Risk?

We all develop a wide range of infections at some point, but fight them off rapidly. But if you are diabetic, elderly or have a weak immune system then you probably are at a greater risk than others as your body will not be able to fight pathogens quickly.

Unattended wound infection can lead to complications

- Non-healing will deteriorate the wound and deeper structures will be affected
- As the wounds go deeper and become more complex they can infect the underlying muscles and bone causing osteomyelitis (chronic bacterial bone infection)
- Infection might spread through blood and cause infection in other areas of the body
- Wound infections can complicate illness, cause anxiety, increase patient discomfort and can also lead to death
- It is estimated that surgical wound infections result in an increased length of hospital stay by about 7-10 days

How to treat an infected wound?

If you think you have an infection, take proper wound care

1. Remove foreign bodies as these will prevent normal healing
2. Change the dressing daily and make sure it is performed in a clean and hygienic environment, this would prevent further infection.
3. Consult wound care specialist
4. Wound debridement to clean contaminated material from wound to aid in wound healing process (if required)
5. Manage wound by moistening (not wet) dressings as this would help in healing.

Some popular form of dressing are:

a. Alginate: Alginate dressings are made of seaweed extract has guluronic acid and mannuronic acids which provide tensile strength while calcium and sodium alginates, confer an absorptive capacity and are secured with secondary coverage.
Applications: These dressings are extremely absorbent and suitable for wounds having copious exudate. Alginate rope is particularly useful to pack exudative wound cavities or sinus tracts.

Popular brands: AlgiSite, Curasorb, Durafiber, McKesson, Melgisorb

b. Antimicrobials: Antimicrobial dressings are wound dressings which have an antiseptic agent incorporated. Absorbs as well as gives moisture simultaneously depending upon requirements within a wound
Applications: These are applied topically to the wound where they exert a broad spectrum of non-selective antibacterial action

Popular brands: Telfa AMD, Curity AMD, Kerlix AMD

c. Foam: Polyurethane foam dressing has absorptive capacity.
Application: These dressings are useful for cleaning granulating wounds with minimal exudate.

Popular brands: Lyofoam, Allevyn

d. Hydrocolloid: Hydrocolloid dressings are made of microgranular suspension of natural or synthetic polymers, such as gelatin or pectin, in an adhesive matrix. The granules change from a semihydrated state to a gel as the wound exudate is absorbed.
Application: Hydrocolloid dressings are useful for dry necrotic wounds, wounds with minimal exudate and for clean granulating wounds.

Popular Brands: CombiDERM, Comfeel, DuoDerm CGF Extra Thin

e. Hydrogel: Hydrogel dressings are water-based or glycerin-based semipermeable hydrophilic polymers; cooling properties may decrease wound pain. These gels can lose or absorb water depending upon the state of hydration of the wound. They are secured with secondary covering.
Application: These dressings are useful for dry, sloughy, necrotic wounds (eschar).

Popular Brands: Curafil, DermaGauze, Normlgel

Can you protect your wound from turning into an infection? Of course you can by following some simple steps:

- When you have a cut or injury, wash to disinfect the injured area and remove all dirt and debris
- Apply direct pressure and elevation to control bleeding and swelling
- Use a sterile dressing to bandage the wound
- Keep the wound clean and dry
- Take medicine for pain if needed
- Apply ice if there is bruising or swelling
- Call your doctor / dermatologist if needed