Clean a Post-Surgical Wound at Home

Edited by Olivia, Anonymous, Eng, Lynn and 2 others

Surgical wound dressing.jpg

Upon discharge from a hospital, you or a loved one may have a surgical wound called an incision. This incision needs to be cleaned and dressed every day to promote healing and prevent infection.

Dressing and cleaning the wound will also provide the opportunity to assess the development of the wound - whether its healing or infected or worse, the wound could become dehiscent.


What are the Process Involved in Wound Healing?

  1. 1
    When the skin is opened, it triggers a response to the brain to activate the cells near the wound
    This is marked by the increased blood flow to the area, that you will notice is painful and red. After this accumulation of blood flow to the area, proliferation ensues.
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  2. 2
    Happens when the cells starts engulfing bacteria in the wound and generate new tissue
    This is a complex process that can be observed by the wound starting to form scabs and feeling tight. The cells "proliferate" the wound in order to cover and produce new tissue.
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  3. 3
    Wound Maturation
    Eng-Wound maturation.jpg
    The cells that proliferated the wounded tissue start to mature, assuming the character and strength of the surrounding tissue
    The whole process, from inflammation to maturation will take about 10 days to one year, depending on the complexity of the wound and the person's overall state of health.
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Things you will need

Seeing the stitches may make you a bit wary of touching it, and more so of cleaning it. A nurse or a doctor can show you how to clean it on the day of your discharge, but you may not be up to the task of doing it. As such, here are some instructions on how to do it should you find someone who is up to the task to help you.

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Arrange and prepare the materials that you will need. It will basically comprise the following:

Materials needed in dressing a surgical wound.jpg
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Basin
  • Gloves
  • Cotton soaked in sterile water or cooled boiled water
  • Syringe without the needle
  • Sterile forceps or tweezers. To sterilize forceps or tweezers, bring a small amount of water in a pan to boil. Soak the forceps or tweezers in the water right after boiling. Carefully remove the instruments and place them in a clean, dry cloth cotton swab, soaked in povidone solution (or a solution prescribed by the physician)
  • Dry gauze
  • Adhesive plaster
  • Trashbin/ Trash bag

Steps in Cleaning and Dressing A Surgical Wound

  1. 1
    Remove all jewelry from your hands then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
    Take time to clean in between the fingers and the nails to ensure that you will not be introducing microorganisms to the instruments that you will be holding while dressing the person's wound.
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  2. 2
    Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dryer.
    Afterward, put on the gloves to protect you when you handle the soiled wound dressing.
    Wear gloves.jpg
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  3. 3
    The old wound dressing may be secured with adhesive tape.
    If it is not contraindicated to wet the area, apply a sterile-water soaked cotton ball to the tape. This will help loosen the tape's adhesive from the skin. As such, ease of removing the tape is facilitated without much discomfort to the person or patient.
    Adhered dressing.jpg
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  4. 4
    Very carefully remove the old dressing from the wound.
    If scab formation is already in process, do not try to remove the scab forcefully. You may also see the old dressing adhere to the wound because of dried drainage. Do not pull the dressing. Instead, get the syringe without the needle and aspirate sterile water. Direct the syringe with water to the wound where the dressing is adhered to the wound because of dried drainage. Push the plunger to release the water onto the wound to help loosen the dressing. Continue until the old dressing falls off.
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  5. 5
    When you have removed the old dressing, inspect the wound for pus and unpleasant discharge.
    If the wound has pus or drainage, drain the pus first, using a dry cotton ball or gauze. If the wound seems to have opened up rather than start healing, notify the physician immediately.
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  6. 6
    After the pus or other drainage has been dried out, clean the wound using cotton soaked in sterile water or cooled boiled water.
    If you do not have gloves, use the sterile forceps or tweezers. Clean the wound using the inner-to-outer principle, or from the cleanest to the dirtiest part.
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  7. 7
    Afterwards, apply a povidone-iodine-soaked cotton to the wound.
    Let it dry for some time before finally covering the surgical wound with dry gauze. Secure the gauze with adhesive dressing tapes.
    Apply betadine solution.jpg
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  8. 8
    Dispose of the soiled dressings in an appropriately labeled trash bin or bag.
    Seal and dispose of properly to avoid transmission of infection.
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Not all surgical wounds are cleansed and dressed as in the mentioned steps above. There are some surgical wounds that that require attention from people with special training, instructions and materials. It is highly recommended that post-surgical wounds be dressed and cleansed according to proper instruction from a health care professional.

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Categories : Health & Wellness

Recent edits by: Robbi, Lynn, Eng

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