A surgical wound is any incision made on the skin as part of the surgery. Incisions may be small or long depending on the type and requirement of the surgical procedure. If an incision is made at an area where a cut was made earlier, it may lead to skin break. All incisions need to be closed properly with sutures (stitches).
When incisions are not closed by your doctor, you may need to take care till the wounds heal. Usually, the surgical wound heals bottom-up. Proper dressing of the incision helps in absorption, allows the skin from closing and fills-in the wound underneath.
PROPER HAND WASHING:
You should wash your hands properly, before you change the dressing. Follow some simple steps:
- Ensure that your hands are free of jewelry
- Soak your hands in warm running water
- Wash your hands for 15 to 30 seconds
- Rinse well and clean your nails too
- Dry hands with a clean towel
REMOVING THE OLD DRESSING:
Follow these simple steps
- Put on a clean medical glove
- Remove the old dressing gently
- Wet the old dressing, if it sticks or fails to come off
- Put the old dressing in a plastic bag
- Clean your hands
CHANGING A REGULAR DRESSING OVER YOUR INCISION:
The consulting doctor or attending nurse will guide you on removing and dressing the surgical wound
- Wash your hands before you dress the wound
- Open a sterile dressing package by holding the upper two edges of the package and don’t tear the package open
- Touch only the edges of the new dressing and don’t touch any part of the dressing that will cover the incision
- Secure the dressing by putting tape on it
- Clean and dry your hands after dressing the wound
WHILE TAKING CARE OF THE INCISION SITE:
You have to strictly follow the instructions provided by your doctor or nurse while taking care of the incision site.
- Wash your hands and dry them before caring for your incision.
- Unless advised by the doctor, do not apply any creams, salves, ointments or powders
- Remove the old dressing before you take a shower. Do not poke, scratch or rub your incision, but pat the incision site dry with a clean towel and put on a new dressing. If the doctor allows for tub bath, you can have it
- Ensure that the incision site is always kept dry, especially when the dressing is on your hand or arm
- The incision may show clear or slightly bloody drain, which is reduced in course of time
- Avoid exposing incisions to sunlight
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF INFECTION:
The signs and symptoms of infection may include, redness, swelling, unusual drainage, warmth at incision site, increased pain, and fever of 100.40 F. If you find any signs of infection at the location of the incision report immediately to the doctor.