Wussing out over a wound? Channel warrior-like calm instead once you’ve learned the basics of treating one.
In this article:
- Common Wound Care Dressings You’ll Encounter
- Every Day Wound Care Treatment: Step By Step
- Tips on Treating a Wound in the Wild
- How to Tell If a Wound Is Healing or Infected
Your Guide on How to Make a Wound Heal Faster
Common Wound Care Dressings You’ll Encounter
Manufacturers make alginate dressings from seaweed. Once you apply one on a wound, it gels with the serum and other fluids in the wound. The gel traps bacteria and takes them away during wound cleaning. Alginates need another dressing type to bind them to the wound.
Composites, or combination dressings, layer three types of dressings in one package. The exposed layer prevents bacteria from penetrating into the wound. The middle layer removes excessive moisture while maintaining conditions for effective wound healing. The layer which comes into contact with the wound itself prevents any further injury to the wound during dressing changes. This type of dressing costs quite a sum to buy and requires extra special care when storing.
Film dressings appear like sheets of plastic with adhesives on one side to help them stick to the open wound. Fluids from the wound keep the adhesive from totally sticking on the wound bed. What’s great about treating a wound this way is you can monitor how the wound is healing.
Foam wound dressings come in polymer sheets with open spaces in the middle so doctors or first-aid personnel can fill them with medicine. These dressings equip a see-through plastic sheet which shields the wound from bacteria.
You can easily find gauze dressings in first aid kits or drug stores. Since gauze is cheap, it’s the most common wound care solution. Gauze can serve as the first or second dressing for any wound, provided it binds a cleaning agent or medicine to facilitate wound healing.
Hydrocolloids form into a gelatin once they cover a wound and start absorbing wound excretions. This dressing leaves a residue after it is removed which most people mistake for an infection. Since hydrocolloids protect the wound better than other wound dressings, there are fewer chances of the wound incurring an infection.
Hydrogels possess a nice cooling effect, which relieves some pain. Since this type of wound dressing isn’t an adhesive, doctors and specialists use gauze or another dressing to bind hydrogels to the wound.
8. Interactive Dressing
Interactive dressings actively work with the wound bed in order to promote faster healing. It’s this action which separates it from the other dressings mentioned here, which merely protect the wound.
Every Day Wound Care Treatment: Step By Step
Step 1. Clean Your Hands
You need to sterilize your hands by first washing with soap and water or using alcohol to disinfect. If you have surgical gloves, all the better. This step ensures nothing from your hands infects the wound.
Step 2. Apply Pressure on the Wound
If the wound is still bleeding, take gauze or a wound dressing and place it over the wound. Apply light to medium pressure to stanch blood loss.
Step 3. Cleanse the Wound Itself
Once the bleeding stops, you need to clean the wound itself. Find a way to irrigate the wound to wash away any sediments or bacteria, and then pat the areas around the wound dry with a clean cloth or gauze. Use soap to clean the wound and then rinse the suds off. If the water doesn’t remove the stuff stuck in the wound, take out a pair of tweezers and remove it manually. Bigger objects stuck or impaled in the wound call for medical attention.
Step 4. Apply an Antibiotic Cream
When the wound is clean, you can apply an antibiotic cream to hasten the healing process. Just follow the instructions in the box and be mindful of the cases when you’re not supposed to use these products. For example, antibiotic creams may harm pregnant women or young children, so alternative wound care methods are required.
Step 5. Bandage the Wound
Air the wound a little to let it dry. You can then start bandaging the wound using the dressing options mentioned above.
Step 6. Rinse and Repeat
Bandages and dressings accumulate dirt and bacteria, so you have to change and replace them regularly with fresh ones. Just remove the old dressing, check the condition of the wound, disinfect, clean it, and then apply a new dressing. Keep doing this until your wound heals.
Tips on Treating a Wound in the Wild
Ideally, you have a first aid kit with you if you get injured in the wilderness. It’s something we mention in our essential camping gear list. Should you find yourself wounded without one in the outdoors, here are some things you can do. Like building a survival shelter, treating a wound in the wild is an essential survival skill you should definitely master.
1. Keep the Wound Open
If you don’t have any fresh dressings available, keep the wound bare and let it dry out naturally. It’s better than covering the wound and allowing bacteria to fester inside.
2. Find Ways to Irrigate the Wound
You have to remove the gross stuff around the wound so find some running water and clean your wound with it. The next best thing is to puncture a plastic bottle filled with clean water and squeeze it to let the jet irrigate your wound. You can also do this with a Ziploc bag.
3. Bring Out the Whiskey
Whiskey and vodka disinfect a wound, but they are hardly ideal sanitizers since they can break down the proteins in the wound bed. This results in a longer healing time. Only use your spirits if you don’t have anything else handy.
4. Pee on That Sh*t (If You Must)
You can use your johnson to irrigate your wound, but like liquor, you have to use pee as a last resort when cleaning your wound.
5. Cut Out Cacti
You’re in luck if you’re stuck in the desert and you find a flat type of cactus with red bulbs growing on it. This cactus, called prickly pear, contains natural antiseptics and astringents. Cut one part, peel it, and place it over your wound. Wrap some bandage around it to hold it in place.
6. Look for Pine Sap
Aside from prickly pear, the sap from some pine trees also cleans and disinfects your wound. Look for pine resin on the tree bark or cut a portion of the tree open to get to the sap.
7. There’s Always Glue
One of the hardest things to watch in the movie Rambo is when John Rambo sealed an open wound closed using a flare. For a less painful (and less manly) way to close a gaping wound, you can use superglue instead. Hold both sides of the wound, bring them together, and apply glue on top. Let it dry. Repeat it again if the glue fails to hold.
How to Tell If a Wound Is Healing or Infected
You can tell your wound is healing by the fluid oozing out of it. A clear liquid means your wound is healing normally, but if you see pus, it’s likely suffering from an infection. Take note of the other signs of infection, namely tenderness around the wound, swelling, inflammation, and fever. If you encounter these, see a doctor quick.
Curious about how wounds heal itself? Here’s an explainer video by TED-Ed:
Mastering the steps and tips for treating a wound will help you overcome needless panic that accompanies an accident or injury. Keep your head in the game, sanitize your wound, bandage it, and it’ll heal in time. Wounds make a man manlier as long you know how to treat them well.
Have you ever been injured in the wild? Spill your stories of survival in the comments section below.