Make like the Greeks and heal wounds more effectively with Elastoplast’s Antibacterial Dressings
The only thing harder than sustaining an injury or having to go through surgery is the recovery that comes after it. Just when you think it’s all over, you’ve got to work out a contingency plan for keeping wounds clean and helping scars to settle.
Scar and wound management is a really critical part of recovery and one which many people often don’t pay much heed to - despite the fact that we’ve known the benefits of it for centuries. In fact, the ancient Greeks were among the first civilisations (that we know of) to stress the importance of keeping wounds clean. Hippocrates - the famous Greek surgeon who was busy operating up to 377BC, used vinegar to irrigate open wounds and wrapped dressings around sores to stop them from getting any worse.
The Egyptians were masters at applying and arranging bandages, as well as recognising the physical signs of infection and inflammation (they used honey to disinfect and pressure sores have been found on 5,000-year-old mummies!) and by the 1800s, we were up to using antiseptics like carbolic acid to sterilise wounds and prevent sepsis.
So wound care is something that we’ve prioritised for a good few millennia.
In today’s world, we face a unique paradox when it comes to injury; we have the most advanced tools for staying safe and healthy and yet we’re more at risk from antibiotic-resistant bugs than ever. That means that unless we take a few simple precautions, we run the risk of suffering really serious and potentially deadly infections which aren’t readily treatable via modern medicines. How we sterilise and dress our wounds matters. It’s all very well applying a plaster but unless that plaster is large enough to cover the wound in its entirety and has some kind of antibacterial property (like Elastoplast Antibacterial Dressings, for example), then you’re still leaving yourself open to potential trouble.
Of course, it’s not just the fact that keeping wounds and scars sterile can help to keep us alive that’s important. Scar management plays a huge role in body confidence and mental health; when we’re getting over surgery, the last thing we want is to end up with a scar that’s more unsightly than it needs to be. Skin positivity isn’t just about being happy in the skin we’re in - it’s also about doing what we can to keep it healthy and nourished.
How to care for your wound
This might sound obvious but assessing what kind of wound you have is the first step to treating it properly. Is it a minor cut or graze? Have you had stitches, staples or glue? Or have you had surgery where the surgeon has decided to leave the wound open to heal up by itself? If the latter, your surgeon will have provided you with comprehensive advice for looking after it.
For minor primary wound healing (i.e the kinds of wounds that you’re taking care of yourself), follow these simple tips:
It’s really important to keep an eye on your wound or scar for signs of infection. If you’ve had stitches, you may want to avoid exposing your scar to direct sunlight (the skin around the scar may develop a slightly different colour) and keep an eye out for any lumps (haematomas) developing around your scar. If that does happen, let your GP or surgeon know.
Make sure the wound is clean by cleansing it from dirt and visible particles with something like Elastoplast Wound Spray. Then, cover the wound with a good-sized dressing. You want to opt for something with antibacterial properties that will provide optimal healing conditions and prevent infection - such as the Elastoplast Antibacterial XL or XXL Dressings (which come in waterproof and sensitive varieties). These have been formulated with antibacterial silver and because of their size, are great for keeping wounds really dry and well-protected.
Silver ions, also known as charged atoms, are highly reactive and can interact with a variety of functional parts of the bacterial cells. When used on wounds, they can interrupt cell growth - preventing infections starting and spreading. They also help to increase the rate of healing, helping to restore the surface tissue, and also reduce wound inflammation, compared to using treatment without silver. So when you’re looking at dressing options, it’s definitely worth plumping for something with a little silver in it - especially if you’re recovering from a minor post-operative wound.
Before applying your dressing, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water. Avoid touching the wound itself with your fingers and the inside of the dressing. Oh, and don’t use antiseptic cream under the dressing as you want to keep the wound dry as possible.
4. Bathe carefully
Ideally, you want to wait for 48 hours before showering after surgery. After that, choose showers over baths if possible (baths can soften the scar tissue, causing wounds to reopen), remove any dressing before having a bath or shower unless your HCP advises you otherwise and don’t use any products directly on your wound.
Be sure to dry carefully around the area with a clean towel - allowing the wound itself to dry naturally.
5. Keep healthy
It’s really important to maintain a good level of overall health when you’re having surgery in general as that’ll help the body to recover quicker. Be sure to eat a balanced, healthy diet, drink a decent amount of water and quit smoking (as toxins can reduce the amount of oxygen getting to your tissues - slowing down wound healing).
6. Know the signs of infection
It’s one thing working to keep wounds clean but it’s equally as important to be able to recognise signs of infection so you can act promptly.
Key signs of wound infection include:
- It becoming more painful or tender
- It looking red, inflamed or swollen
- Smelling unpleasant
- Weeping/leaking liquid, pus or blood
Surgical wound infections can develop anywhere from two days to two weeks post-op, so you really can’t afford to take your eye off the ball. If you think your wound has become infected, contact your GP or hospital ward you were on.
7. Speed up the process
It is possible to speed up the healing process. We recommend using something like Elastoplast Wound Ointment as a final step in your wound care routine, once wounds have closed. It works by forming a protective barrier on the wound that’s been proven to help reduce scarring and cut the healing timetable by half. If you’re using these kinds of products on post-op wounds, make sure that they’re fully enclosed before you apply them.
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Last revised: 2 November 2020
Next review: 2 May 2021