Looking after your wound at home

27 Aug 2016 Amyholgate

Doing some gardening this summer? Or maybe going cycling? Getting out and about in the summer is great for your health, but make sure you know what to do if you have an accident.

Our tissue viability nurse, Sue Murphy, gives some tips on how to look after your wound – and when to get help.

Q: How do I treat a small wound?

  • Remove any debris, e.g. dirt or gravel.
  • Use warm tap water to clean it.
  • Cover it to keep it clean. A plaster might do the job. For larger wounds, buy a simple dressing from a local chemist. ‘Non-stick’ dressings are recommended.

Q: It’s been two weeks and I’m still worried about my wound.
Wounds usually heal or start to improve during one to two weeks so if after this time there is no sign that it is getting better, you should seek advice. If you have any of the following signs, the wound is likely to be infected:

  • The wound is getting bigger.
  • There’s a redness around the border of the wound which gradually starts extending more than 1cm away from the wound.
  • The redness is hot and painful.
  • There’s an increased swelling/leakage from the wound.
  • It gives off a smell.

In the first instance, arrange to see a treatment room nurse at your GP surgery. This may lead to a referral to our Wound Care service.

Q: What about wounds on my lower leg?
If you have a wound on the lower leg, below the knee, you need to be cautious as these wounds are sometimes affected by circulation and can be harder to heal. If your legs are swollen, you are more prone to developing a leg ulcer when the skin has been knocked. For this reason it is a good idea to seek advice from the treatment room nurse at your GP surgery if you notice the knocked area is not healing.

The earlier you seek advice on wounds on the lower legs – the better. It’s okay to wait a few days to seek advice (for example, it won’t hurt if you leave it for a weekend), but do not leave it for weeks.

Q: How can I reduce swelling in my legs?
To reduce swelling in your legs, which can make wounds slower to heal, make sure you:

  • Take lots of regular exercise, such as walking, as this can help circulation. If you can’t walk very well, you can still exercise your legs by moving your feet and ankles around while you are sitting in a chair.
  • Sit with your feet raised up, perhaps on the sofa or on a foot stool with a cushion on it. Ideally your legs need to be level with your heart or higher if you can!
  • When standing still, move your body weight left to right and raise and lower your toes.
  • Do not cross your legs as this slows down blood flow.
  • Wear light compression hosiery which you can buy from the chemist.

If you have followed this advice and your legs are still swollen and feel heavy and achy, make an appointment with your treatment room nurse at your GP surgery for assessment. Here, they can provide some more supportive compression hoisery if needed.

If you have any concerns or questions about a wound, contact your GP surgery, or you can contact the Wound Care service on 0117 919 0270 or email wcs@nhs.net

If you urgently need an appointment, our Urgent Care Centre at South Bristol Community Hospital is open 8am-8pm everyday. 0117 342 9692. Sat nav postcode: BS14 0DB

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