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Wound Care

If you have an incision (cut) or wound, make sure you keep it clean and follow any special instructions you received for changing the dressings.

Watch for signs or symptoms of infection.

If your wound/incision has:

  • Increasing redness
  • Swelling
  • Warmth
  • Bad smell
  • Tenderness or pain
  • Pus-like discharge
  • Change in the amount or colour of the drainage

If you experience:

  • High blood sugars
  • Fever

If you develop any of these, contact your surgeon/physician immediately.

What else should I report to the surgeon?

If your wound or incision is coming apart or the staples or stitches come out earlier than expected, please call the surgeon. You should also notify the surgeon/physician if you notice any other change in your symptoms, if you feel worse or have any questions or concerns.

How do I take care of Steri Strips?

Steri Strips are thin adhesive strips placed over an incision to help it heal.

  • Keep the wound clean.
  • Do not let them get wet for the first 24 hours.
  • Then you can gently wash them with soap and water daily.
  • Leave them in place until they fall off on their own or the doctor tells you to remove them.
  • They may fall off the skin after 10 to 14 days.
  • Keep them dry as much as possible to prevent infection.
  • If your doctor tells you to remove them, use lotion or a small amount of water to loosen them from your skin.

How do I take care of stitches/sutures/staples?

  • Keep the wound clean.
  • Do not let it get wet for the first 24 hours.
  • Then you can gently wash it with a mild soap that is pH balanced, such as Dove soap, and water twice a day.
  • Make sure the wound and sutures are kept dry between washings.
  • Your physician may recommend that you cover your wound with gauze or a bandage to keep it from getting dirty.

You will be instructed on when to return to have them removed. This will depend on the area involved; it can be anywhere from 3 days for a wound on the face to 14 days for a high stress area like the hands, knees or elbows.

How do I take care of a bandage or dressing?

You will be given instructions before you leave the hospital as to when the dressing can be removed. Often, a surgical dressing will need to be removed in the surgeon's office. However, if you notice that the wound is bleeding or draining, the area underneath the bandage is swelling, or if the bandage becomes wet, or is falling off, you should contact your physician immediately.

How do I change a dressing or pack a wound?

The nurse will make sure your dressing changes can be managed safely, by you or your caregiver, before you return home. It is very important to follow the instructions completely. You may have a Home Care Nurse come to your house after you are discharged to do your dressing changes.

If you need to use special supplies, they can be found in most pharmacies or Medical Supply companies. You may need a prescription for the medication to dress your wound. You should receive all the materials you need for the first few dressing changes from the hospital.