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Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Right Way to Treat a Wound

By Dave from

We’ve all put on a band-aid sometime or other; but that’s not really wound treatment. In a survival situation, you’re probably going to be faced with much more serious wounds than that, requiring much more thorough wound treatment. Whether due to gunshot wounds or working with tools that most of us aren’t accustomed to using, the likelihood of serious wounds is much higher.

The other problem is that medical services will be overloaded. This happens in any crisis situation, with hospitals and clinics becoming overcrowded and medical personnel working round the clock to take care of those with needs. Just getting medical care will be a challenge.

Doctors say that the faster a person receives treatment, the better. Quick treatment lowers the amount of blood loss, as well as reducing the chance of infection. Being able to take care of wounds yourself can literally save someone’s life, by getting them the care they need before it is too late.

The Importance of Cleanliness

Doctors and other medical professionals always wash before and after having any contact with a patient. There’s a good reason for that; it’s to avoid infection. We always have bacteria in and on our bodies. As long as they stay in the areas where they belong, they really don’t cause us any problem. However, if they get into other parts of our bodies, some can be lethal.

The skin acts as part of our immune system in that it protects us from infection. Bacteria and other pathogens can’t easily penetrate our skin. However, if we have a cut or other opening in our skin, they can enter the body easily.

So this means that one of the places a victim can be infected from is you, while you are attempting to treat them. Washing your hands and putting on sterile gloves is merely a manner to help prevent that from happening.

5 Steps to Care for a Wound

Every wound needs to be cared for in the same way. While the amount of bleeding is a concern, at least from the viewpoint of preventing the patient from losing too much blood, that isn’t an indication of the seriousness of the wound. Some wounds bleed more than others, simply because of their location. Cutting a vein or artery will cause a wound to bleed a lot, whereas a wound 1/2 inch away won’t.

Clean the wound

Irrigating the wound is part of cleansing it, specifically that of removing any foreign particles from the wound. It consists of running enough of a sterile solution over the wound to rinse it out. That sterile solution could be water, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. If water is clean enough to safely drink, then it’s clean enough to safely irrigate a wound.

If available, an irrigation syringe should be used. This is a 30cc syringe with an extended plastic nozzle, rather than a needle. The plastic nozzle allows you to get the irrigating solution into the wound area. If the wound is open, where you can actually see inside the body, then place the end of the nozzle inside the body; otherwise, keep it close to the surface.

In addition to cleaning out the wound itself, the area around the wound should be cleaned. This can be done by pouring on alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, or by using alcohol towlettes. The idea is to kill any bacteria on the surface of the wound and skin, while also providing a clean skin surface for the bandage’s adhesive to stick to.

Stop the bleeding

If a wound is bleeding profusely, there’s a chance that a vein or artery was cut in the injury. It will be necessary to get the wound to stop bleeding so much, before it can be fully treated. Examine the wound and see if you can determine exactly where the blood is coming from. There are a few different ways of stopping or at least slowing bleeding. They can be used in conjunction with each other.

  • Pressure – Applying pressure to the wound is usually the first means of slowing bleeding. Place a sterile pad, such as one of gauze, over the wound and press down on it. Maintain pressure until the bleeding slows to a reasonable level.

  • Apply a tourniquet – a tourniquet is a pressure band placed between the wound and the patient’s heart, when a wound is on a limb. The pressure reduces the blood flow to that limb, allowing it to clot. When a tourniquet is applied, it should always be a temporary measure, along with other measures. Loosen after 15 minutes to see if the bleeding has slowed.

  • Suturing – If the patient were in a hospital emergency room, this is probably what they’d try to do. However, suturing a wound is difficult and should only be attempted if you know what you are doing.

  • Hemostats – In the case of a severed or partially severed limb, closing off the blood vessels may be the only way of stopping the bleeding. However, there is a risk when this is done, as it totally blocks off blood flow to the limb. This will probably cause tissue to die, so it should only be used when absolutely necessary.

  • Clotting agent – A clotting agent is something which speeds up the blood’s normal ability to clot. There are several brands of this on the market, which are available in a crystal form or embedded into a bandage.

Apply antiseptic

No matter how well you clean a wound, you can’t see bacteria, so you don’t know if you’ve cleansed it thoroughly enough. Antiseptic ointments are there to kill any bacteria, helping to prevent any infection from taking hold. Apply liberally to the whole wound and the area around it.

Close the wound

If the wound is open, the edges of the skin need to be brought together so that they can heal closed. This is normally done by suturing. However, you can do just about as good a job by using butterfly sutures. These are like adhesive bandage strips, without the center portion that has the gauze pad. Instead of a gauze pad, it has a thin strip of plastic to hold the two adhesive sides together.

To use butterfly closures, start by opening the packages of however many butterflies you’ll need. Peel off the protector from one of the adhesive pads and stick it lightly to your glove. Once you have the closures ready, pull the skin together with the hand that has the closures stuck to the glove, so that the edges come into contact with each other. If necessary, wipe or blot off any water or blood. Then take the butterfly and stick the adhesive pad to the far side of the wound. Pull it, remove the protective cover off the other adhesive pad and attach it to the near side. Repeat for all butterflies.

Protect the wound

The purpose of bandaging a wound is to protect it from dirt and other impurities that can carry infection. Always use a bandage that’s bigger than the wound, so that the entire wound area will be covered by one bandage. Place the bandage centered over the wound and tape it in place. If the bandage is self-adhesive, then use the adhesive strips provided. However, larger bandages rarely have any adhesive on them, so you must use medical tape.

The new cohesive medical tape is much better than the older adhesive type. The cohesive tape is stretchy rubber. To apply it, one pulls on the roll as they are going around the limb. The tape does not stick to the skin. Rather, once the first revolution is complete, the tape sticks to itself. This prevents it from pulling loose hair and makes it much less painful to remove.

Change bandages whenever they get dirty to prevent infection. At a minimum, they should be changed once per day.

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