Wound Management

When the skin is broken or damaged due to injury, proper wound care and management is most important to prevent infection, ensure there are no other associated injuries and promote healing of the wound. 

Causes of Wounds

The main function of the skin is to form a barrier to the outside world protecting the body from infection, radiation and extremes of temperature.

There are many types of wounds including; abrasions, lacerations, rupture injuries, punctures and penetrating wounds.

Symptoms of Wounds

Redness, heat, swelling and pain at the wound site is normal during the first 3 days however, if these symptoms are still present after 3 days or if the redness, warmth, swelling or pain increases or if a fever, foul smelling odour, increased fluid discharge is present, this may mean the wound is infected and will require a visit to the doctor for antibiotics.

Animal or human bite wounds will also require a referral to the doctor as they often become infected.

Treatment of Wounds

Wound healing generally involves 3 phases:

  • Inflammatory phase (0-3 days) - this is the body’s normal response to injury and involves vasodilatation resulting in increased blood flow to the wound site causing HEAT, REDNESS, SWELLING and PAIN
  • Proliferation phase (2-24 days) - the healing phase when reconstruction and epithelialisation occurs.  Collagen is produced and keratinocytes differentiate to form the outer protective layer
  • Maturation phase (24-365 days) -  the final stage of healing when scar tissue is formed

Stages of wound management:

  1. Stop the bleeding: apply direct pressure on the wound and if possible, elevate the wound above heart level reduce blood flow to the injury site.  Minor wounds should not take more than 10 minutes to stop bleeding.  If bleeding cannot be controlled seek medical attention immediately

  2. Clean the wound:  Sterile isotonic saline solution is best for cleansing a wound as it is isotonic to body tissue and has no detrimental effects on living tissues. A non-soap neutral pH wash and iodine-based antiseptic may be used if it is a dirty wound.  Ensure the antiseptic is rinsed off with sterile saline as it can delay wound healing.  Avoid using alcohol or acetone on the wound as it degrades tissues

  3. Dress the wound: different wounds will require different types of dressings.  Wounds may require wound closure strips to stop bleeding, an island dressing to absorb exudate, film dressings if a barrier against water is required or a non-stick bandage to minimize trauma to the wound at each dressing change.  A hydrogel should be used on all wounds to promote a moist environment for optimal healing and reduces risk of scarring

  4. Check the wound daily

  5. Clean the wound daily

  6. Change wound dressings daily

Next Steps

Your Pharmacy 777 Pharmacists will be able to assess the wound and give referrals if appropriate, and give first aid including cleansing and dressing the wound. Following the wound management steps above, visit your local Pharmacy 777 for assistance to:

  1. Stop the bleeding: Potassium chloride and iron phosphate tablets (available at Pharmacy 777) can be crushed and applied directly to the wound to reduce swelling and inflammation

  2. Clean the wound: Come into a Pharmacy 777 store and a Pharmacist can help you clean the wound

  3. Dress the wound: different wounds will require different types of dressings, your Pharmacist can assess the wound and select the most appropriate one to reduce the risk of wound re-opening and bleeding, promote healing and reduce scarring

  4. Check the wound daily: come into a Pharmacy 777 store for a 777 Pharmacist to check for signs of infection and ensure the wound is healing adequately

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