Wound care basics
Got a cut, scrape, scratch, blister, or bite? Follow these at-home wound care guidelines to give your body the best chance at healing.
- Stop the bleeding. Apply pressure with a piece of gauze. If blood soaks through the first piece of gauze, add another, but don't remove the first piece. You may have to hold pressure for several minutes.
- Clean the wound gently but thoroughly. Start by washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. Rinse the wound with cool water, then remove any debris with tweezers sanitized in alcohol. Wash the wound with soap and warm water.
- Protect the wound. Apply an antibiotic ointment if desired, and finish with an adhesive bandage to keep germs out. Remember to change the bandage every day.
- Keep an eye out for infection. Warmth, redness, swelling, pain, oozing, and flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, body aches) could mean infection. If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.
Identifying circulation problems
Poor circulation is one of the biggest causes of non-healing wounds. How can you tell if your circulation is putting you at risk? Here are some signs to watch for.
- Numbness or tingling in your extremities (hands, feet, fingers or toes).
- Cold skin temperature in the extremities (cold hands or feet)
- Dry skin
- Swelling in the hands, legs or feet
- Leg cramps that improve with rest
- Varicose veins (bluish, bulging, prominent veins, particularly on the legs)
If you experience these symptoms, there are medications and treatments that may be able to help. See your doctor to learn how to reduce your risk.
Diabetic foot care
People with diabetes are prone to foot wounds because nerve damage (called neuropathy) is a common complication of diabetes. When the foot's nerves are damaged, patients aren't able to feel pain. This means they may not be aware when a wound develops. Here's how to prevent foot problems if you have diabetes.
- Check your feet every day for cuts, blisters, or redness. Don't forget to look between your toes, where moisture can settle and lead to infection.
- Wear appropriate shoes to protect your feet and insulate them from cold temperatures.
- Dry your feet well after bathing, then use petroleum jelly or lotion to seal in the skin's moisture.
- If you see an ulcer developing on your foot, see your doctor right away to avoid infections that could lead to amputation.
- Keep your blood sugar under control, so that your body is better able to fight off infections.
If you're having trouble keeping your blood sugar under control, it might be time to meet with one of our diabetes experts.
When to see a doctor
It can be difficult to know when to seek treatment for a non-healing wound. Early intervention is key to a good outcome. Here are signs that your wound needs medical attention.
- Time. If your wound has not improved in four weeks, and has not healed completely in eight weeks, then something is preventing the healing process.
- Bothersome symptoms. If you're experiencing pain, or if your wound is making it harder for you to get around, you could likely benefit from a consultation with the team at the Wound Healing Center.
- Signs of infection. If you experience redness, swelling, warmth, increasing pain, or oozing at the wound site, consult with your doctor to determine whether your wound is infected.
- Existing medical conditions. You may have a medical condition that makes you more likely to suffer from non-healing wounds. These include diabetes, circulation problems and high blood pressure, among others. These conditions make it harder for your body to heal, so seeing a doctor is a good idea.
Contact the multidisciplinary team at the Wound Healing Center to schedule a consultation by calling 1-855-866-HEAL or 410-225-8600.