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Home Care Tips to Help Wounds Heal

Armen Hareyan's picture

Home Care

A slip with a kitchen knife, a spill off a bike or a fall on the sidewalk. It's not uncommon to have a mishap that breaks the skin. When a wound occurs, your body quickly begins regeneration and repair. You can facilitate healing with proper home care.

The December issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource offers these tips:

  • Cover the wound with a sterile dressing and apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Wash the wound with tap or bottled water or sterile saline. Seek medical treatment if you need stitches, can't clean the wound or if it was caused by animal or human bite. If it's been 10 years or longer since you had a tetanus shot, you'll need medical attention, too.

  • Next, cover the wound with a topical antibiotic ointment. Create a barrier to keep the wound moist by applying a heavy lubricant such as Vaseline or Aquaphor. Don't use betadine, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide because these harsh chemicals interfere with healing.

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  • First, cover the wound with a sterile dressing to create a warm, moist environment - the best condition for wound healing. (This differs from past recommendations to leave the wound open to air.) A protected environment decreases pain, infection and the likelihood of reinjury.

  • The ideal dressing keeps the wound moist and the surrounding tissue dry. Avoid plain gauze because it can stick to the scab and cause reinjury when removed. Instead, use a nonstick dressing and gently change it every day or two. Attempt to keep a wet scab intact. Wounds should normally stay covered for five days or until the surface layers have healed.

  • Don't scratch. Itching is normal to the healing process and scratching may reopen the wound.

  • Maintain a healthy diet and don't smoke. These healthy behaviors promote healing.

  • Seek medical attention if the wound develops signs of infection including redness, increased pain or swelling or a yellow or green discharge.