What to Do When You’ve Got an Open Wound

Updated on January 30, 2022

An open wound may be caused by a number of different factors. Most commonly, wounds are caused by long-term pressure or injury to a specific area of the skin.

Having an open wound leaves you at risk of infection so it’s important that you take good care of it. There are lots of different at-home dressings and treatments that you can use to minimize infection risks and speed up the recovery process.

If you have a severe wound that is oozing a lot of fluids, pus, or blood, you must seek professional medical help. Severe wounds are at a much higher risk of leading to infection of necrosis (death) of the surrounding soft tissues.

Types of Wounds

Wounds can be closed or open. Closed wounds don’t involve any breakage of the skin. The most common example of a closed wound is a bruise.

Open wounds are a lot more complex and there are several types. You might have an open wound if you have recently been injured or had surgery.

The most common types of open wounds include:

  • Abrasion
  • Avulsion
  • Incision
  • Laceration
  • Puncture

Treatments for Open Wounds

So, what can you do if you have an open wound?

The main goal of treatment with an open wound is to promote healing of the open area while reducing the risk of infection. The healing process can be sped up using a variety of different natural remedies, dressings, and medications.

For minor open wounds, simple at-home dressings may be sufficient. To begin with, you should always clean the wound using warm water and saline solution.

Use gentle cotton pads to dab the area and remove any exudate or pus from the area. Make sure there is no debris, such as dead tissue, glass, or other objects in the wound.

Your doctor or nurse may have also given you an antibiotic cream to apply to your open wound. If so, apply the cream at this stage, just before you cover the wound with a dressing. The antibiotics kill any bacteria to prevent the area from getting infected.

When the wound is clean, a dressing can be applied to cover the open area. There are several different kinds of dressings and the most suitable option will depend on the location and severity of your wound.

The most common types of wound dressings include:

  • Alginate dressings, such as Silvercel
  • Cloth dressings
  • Foam dressings
  • Gauze and mesh dressings
  • Hydrocolloid dressings
  • Hydrogel dressings
  • Transparent films

Most dressings come in adhesive versions that make them easy to apply to the skin. If you have non-adhesive options, you might need some medical tape to secure the dressings in place.

If you have a deeper wound, it’s best to let your doctor or nurse practitioner dress the area. They may use specialized equipment to clean the area and may use stitches to close the wound as much as possible. Stitching the area can promote faster healing alongside the use of wound dressings.

Medications may be provided by a healthcare professional. These medications may be antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection or anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and swelling in the area.

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