Proper care of wounds can prevent infection and speed the body’s healing process.
- Immediately after the injury, wash thoroughly with clean water and mild soap. Remove any visible dirt or debris from the wound. Apply gentle pressure to stop bleeding.
- For burn wounds, run cool water over the area or apply a cool, wet cloth. If blisters form, do not pop or drain.
- Apply a thin layer of bacitracin antibiotic ointment or white petroleum to the wound. Cover with a bandage.
- Clean area twice daily with soap and water, and apply a new bandage and ointment after cleaning. There is no need to use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol for cleaning. Continue this care until wound is fully healed.
- Deep or gaping wounds may need stitches or other wound care from a medical professional. Some bite injuries may also require special attention.
Tetanus is an uncommon but serious infection that can occur after a skin injury. It is recommended that all individuals receive a series of three tetanus vaccinations, usually given during infancy, and a booster shot every 10 years. Some puncture wounds or other dirty wounds may require a tetanus booster if it has been more than five years since the last tetanus shot.
When to contact a clinician
Initially, some mild redness directly around the wound is a normal part of healing, but seek medical care if there is any of the following:
Red "streaking" spreading out from the wound
Increased pain or swelling
Difficulty moving the affected area
Pus or odorous wound drainage
Warmth around the wound
Fever higher than 100.4 degrees
Poor healing, gaping wounds, bite injuries, etc.