You can take an active role in your own care after reconstructive procedures. It is important to wash your hands before and after caring for your wound. Hand washing is the best plan to prevent infection.
How was the wound closed?
Stitches that were used to close a wound or placed just under the skin may be visible. The stitches bring the skin edges together to promote healing and reduce scarring. Sometimes a combination of stitches, staples and closure tapes (also called Steri-strips) are used to close the wound.
Can the wound get wet?
Ways to keep the area clean
The wound needs to be kept dry for at least 24 hours (one day) or longer. After this period of time, the patient may take a brief shower. Pat the wound dry with a clean towel and apply the dressing as instructed. Do not swim, take a bath or soak the wound until the stitches are removed.
- Clean the wound gently with soap and water at least once a day until the stitches are removed. If the wound is in an area that is likely to get dirty, a clean Band-Aid or dressing may be worn over the wound. Take the Band-Aid or dressing off when there is no drainage so the wound can air dry. Change the dressing at least once each day, or more often if it gets wet or dirty.
- Do not use any creams, lotions or gels unless the doctor says it’s okay.
- Do not pull off any scabs. Scabs protect the fragile new tissue.
- If Steri-strips are being used, the Steri-strip edges may begin to curl. Steri-strips may be removed when they are barely attached to the skin, usually after five to seven days.
What’s the best way to care for an open wound?
When should the doctor be called?
Sometimes a wound will be left open to drain. Also, wounds that are not fresh may be left open to lessen the chance of an infection from the germs already inside the area. A nurse or doctor will give specific instructions and discuss healing time.
Some redness around the wound is normal. The following signs and symptoms should be reported to a doctor:
- increasing redness, swelling, tenderness or warmth around your wound;
- drainage from the wound that is excessive, foul smelling, an unusual color or involves increased bleeding;
- temperature of 101˚ Fahrenheit or greater;
- increasing pain; or
- red streaks going up the arm or leg.
Will medicines be given too?
Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin/Advil (ibuprofen) may be helpful for pain. Sometimes a doctor will prescribe a stronger pain medicine. Antibiotics may also be ordered.
Call the doctor’s office the next business day to schedule a follow-up appointment. If the condition worsens and you are not able to reach your doctor, please visit a Warren Clinic Urgent Care or the Trauma Emergency Center at Saint Francis.