Wound care is important at every stage of the wound healing process. Whether you’re caring for a wound on your body by yourself or you are a healthcare professional, knowing the proper wound management steps to take is essential.
Failure to manage your wound or one of your patient’s wounds can increase the risk of infections in the area and can slow down the process of healing. If the wound gets infected, it could spread to other areas of the body or result in necrosis.
Every nurse and nursing assistant learns the key steps of wound management as part of their training. However, medicine is always changing and improving so the wound management protocol can change year by year.
If you’re a recently qualified healthcare professional, you will be up-to-date on the latest wound care protocol. Those of you who have been qualified for several years will complete ongoing wound management training each year to succeed in your nursing career.
What is Wound Management?
Wound care or wound management refers to the steps that a healthcare worker takes to keep a wound clean to prevent infections and aid the recovery process. It may also involve the prescription of certain treatments or medications, such as antibiotics.
What Are the Different Types of Wounds?
Wound care may look slightly different depending on the type of wound. The most common types of wounds include:
- Pressure sores – areas of the body that receive high levels of constant pressure or are prone to wounds where soft tissue gets damaged. Pressure sores, also known as pressure ulcers, are most common among the older population.
- Skin tears – caused by mechanical forces, skin tears can range from type 1 (no skin loss) to type 3 (total loss of the skin).
- Arterial wounds – this type of wound results from tissue ischemia that is caused by limited blood flow to a certain area of the body.
- Venous ulcers – ulcers that are caused by incompetency in the venous valves of the lower body, causing fluid retention and swelling.
- Diabetic foot wounds – resulting from neuropathy, diabetic foot ulcers can cause changes to the individual’s perception of pressure and pain in the foot.
Wound Management Equipment
Whether you’re looking after your own wound or you’re a nurse caring for patients, you’ll need to have a range of sterile wound care equipment at hand at all times. Keeping your medical bag stocked up is important so that you always have the necessary tools for different wound types and severities.
Here is a list of the essential wound management equipment that you should always have close by:
Foam dressings, such as Mepilex Sacrum dressings
- Hydrocolloid dressings
- Gauze roll
- Transparent films
- Medical tape
- Alcohol wipes
- Medical gloves
- Cotton balls
What Are the Key Wound Management Tips?
Here are some of the key steps that can’t be missed when you’re caring for a wound.
Assessment of the wound
Proper wound management must begin with a detailed assessment of the wound in question. You must note down the location of the wound, its size and shape, the extent of tissue damage or necrosis, and whether or not there are any signs of infection.
Properly assessing the wound makes it easier to identify what kinds of dressings and medications you might need to use on the wound to aid the healing process.
Cleaning the wound
Thoroughly cleaning a wound is vital for the healing process. Failing to keep a wound clean and infection free can cause it to worsen and may result in tissue loss.
You must use a saline solution on all wounds to wash away any dirt, debris, pus, or blood. If there is any damaged tissue or necrotic tissue in the area, this must be removed before the wound is dressed.
If you or your patient has been prescribed an antibiotic cream, apply this after washing the wound. This will help to remove any bacteria from the area, preventing infections.
It’s also important to check the levels of moisture in the wound. There should be slight moisture but the wound should not be wet. A warm and wet environment can encourage the growth of bacteria.
Assessing the rest of the body
Wounds usually do not occur in isolation. It’s important to perform further assess and observation to identify additional wounds. Make sure to note down all of your findings so that you and your colleagues can formulate an effective treatment plan.