Injury is an unfortunate part of life. No matter how careful you are, you are likely to experience a little bit of bodily harm as you make your way in the world. As well as breaks, sprains, fractures, and concussions, many of the unfortunate injuries people are subjected to could be described as wounds.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the definition of a wound is:
‘an injury to the body (as from violence, accident, or surgery) that typically involves laceration or breaking of a membrane (such as the skin) and usually damage to underlying tissues’
A laceration is the key defining feature of a wound. As such, wound care typically takes the form of efforts to close, clean, and protect lacerations. Our skin is an essential protective organ shielding our delicate internal tissues. The breakdown of the skin’s protective function as the result of a wound often means that this protective function has to be emulated by dressings and plasters.
Although slightly invasive, stitches are a proven way of inducing healing after a laceration. Surgical stitching is a delicate procedure and should not be attempted without training. The goal of stitching is to bring together the two sides of a laceration – allowing them to bond.
Modern stitches are made of a material that is slowly dissolved by the acidic environment of the body. This prevents the need for stitch removal, which can aggravate a healing wound.
2. Butterfly Stitches
Butterfly stitches (also known as Steri-Strips) are wound closure adhesives that can be applied at home. They can only really be applied to clean wounds on static areas of the body but can be especially useful in closing shallow cuts and allowing the laceration to bond.
3. Silicone Dressings
Silicone Wound Dressings are currently very popular as general purpose wound dressings. They closely emulate the protective capabilities of the skin and can be made out of several perforated layers to allow for a degree of airflow for the damaged tissue.
Believe it or not, maggots have a place in modern medicine. Specially bred (in a sterile environment) maggots can be extremely useful for cleaning necrotic and infected tissue from wounds.
They are very rarely used – only being applied in cases where necrosis is likely to spread out of control. The benefit of using maggots as opposed to cleaning fluids or equipment is that they act like heat-seeking missiles. The maggots actively seek and consume the dead tissue, largely leaving healthy tissue alone.
5. Silver Dressings
Silver is an antibacterial and antifungal chemical element. Silver dressings are very expensive, and not particularly useful for most patients. However, if you have poor vascular health, these dressings emulate the antifungal and antibacterial defenses of the body. Silver allergies do exist, so if you are applying a silver dressing to somebody else, it is worth asking if they know of any allergies.
6. Foam Dressings
Foam dressings are useful for treating wounds such as diabetic ulcers, where poor blood flow and inactivity make other dressings stick to tissue.