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Wound Care

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About Wound Care

Your intact skin is one of your body's most important defenses against infection. When the skin is cut, torn or scraped, the resulting wound can become infected. Proper wound care can aid healing and prevent infection.

Scrapes, Minor Cuts, and Burns

  • Cleanse gently every day with lots of water.
  • Intact blisters should not be broken.
  • You may cover the wound with a thin layer of any over-the-counter antibiotic ointment (except Neosporin) and a clean bandage. (Vitamin E can impede healing and is not recommended for use on new injuries.)
  • Change the bandage every day and as needed which gives you an opportunity to look for signs of infection.

Xeroform Dressings (yellowish gauze) wrapped with a dry gauze

  • Keep the Xeroform gauze in place, undisturbed, and dry.
  • The Xeroform gauze should stick to your skin. If all or part of it is not sticking, return to the clinic.
  • The dry gauze covering the Xeroform gauze needs to stay dry, so replace it as needed, leaving the Xeroform gauze beneath it undisturbed.

Cuts With Stitches

  • Leave the original dressing in place for the first 24 hours and keep it absolutely dry.
  • After the first 24 hours, change the dressing daily and as needed.
  • Keep the area clean and dry. After the first 24 hours washing with water (but do not immerse in water) is OK as long as the area is promptly dried.
  • Elevate the wound area as much as possible for the first two to three days.
  • Return as advised for re-check and suture removal.

Wound Infection

Sometimes wounds get infected even though you are doing all the right things. Therefore, it is important to look at your wound area every day to check for signs of infection.

Call if signs of infections are present

  • increasing redness along or around wound
  • increasing swelling
  • persistent or worsening pain or tenderness (pain when area is touched)
  • red streaks on the skin
  • local heat (The skin right around the wound is hotter than skin further away.)
  • fever
  • draining pus

Tetanus Prevention or Prophylaxis

If you have not been previously immunized and/or have not had a tetanus booster in the previous ten years, an injection for tetanus is recommended following a wound to prevent the development of tetanus or "lock jaw." The injection is usually given in the upper part of your arm and may cause your arm to become tender, warm and/or cause a low-grade fever. Acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil) may be taken regularly to help with these side effects.

Related Services at the Tang Center

For Students:

  • Advice Nurse: (510) 643-7197
  • Appointments: (510) 642-2000
  • Self Care Resource Center: (510) 642-7202

For Faculty and Staff:

  • Please refer questions to your health plan or primary care provider.
Related Topics

Disclaimer: The information provided here is not intended to diagnose, treat or provide a second opinion on any health problem or disease. It is meant to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between an individual and his/her clinician.

Last reviewed: August 2005

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