Healing surgical wounds is not just about the healing treatment given to you by your surgeon. It also involves the care you give your incision at home. In many cases, you will need to change your surgical dressing at some point after you are discharged. Following the correct care procedure for this is important.
Hygiene is crucial when changing wound care dressings. Make sure you remove jewelry, roll up your sleeves, and thoroughly wash and dry your hands before you get started. If you have a medical glove, wear this while removing the dressing. Put the dressing and glove in a plastic bag and rewash your hands.
Before washing your wound, take time to inspect it; especially look at the color, and check the smell of any discharge. Follow this with cleaning the wound using a saline solution and sterile gauze. Wipe the soaked gauze gently over the area, again checking for any discharge or blood. Dry the area using dry, clean gauze. Apply any ointments or creams you have been given, being careful not to catch or pull any stitches you may have.
The new dressing is now ready to be put in place. You should be careful not to touch the inside of the dressing as this can cause cross-infection. Once in place and secured, clean away the old dressing and gauze, making sure you dispose of it correctly. Once you have changed the dressing, watch for fresh leakage, pus, or blood. This is an important part of surgical wound care as failing to recognize early signs of infection could greatly increase your recovery time as well as your pain and discomfort.
Healing of surgical wounds involves ensuring that the wound is kept clean, dry, and free from infection. However, there are occasions when the infection is picked up during surgery. In these cases, you need to be observant and respond quickly to any signs of infection. This is especially the case if the wound is in a sensitive area, as there are links between all parts of the body, be it hearing loss and brain health or neck pain and back health.
These are the major symptoms of infection to watch for:
The most obvious sign of complications with your surgical wound is an increase in pain that does not improve with the appropriate medication. Along with pain, you may also start to feel generally unwell, experience a fever, chills, or profuse sweating. These are all signs that your immune system is working harder, and therefore most likely trying to fight off an infection. Vigilance is also needed when you are carrying out your wound care. If you notice additional warmth in the area of the wound, you should seek medical advice.
Other symptoms that you may notice during surgical wound care are swelling or an increase in redness in the area. White pimples or blisters may also appear around the wound. Left untreated, an infection in the wound could spread, causing ulcers. In the very worst cases, it could lead to the necrotizing of the surrounding tissue and even pass into the bloodstream. As well as making it much harder to heal the surgical wound, this progression can be life-threatening.
Individuals who have undergone lengthy or emergency procedures are most at risk of surgical infections, but other factors such as obesity, smoking, and diabetes can all increase your risk.