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How to Change Wound Dressing


Wound care is a crucial aspect of recovery for any injury, big or small. Whether you’re dealing with a minor cut or a more serious wound, knowing how to properly change wound dressing can promote healing and prevent infection. Here, we’ll walk you through the process of changing wound dressing.

Understanding Wound Dressing

Before delving into the process, let’s understand what wound dressing entails. Wound dressing refers to the application of a sterile covering over a wound to protect it from further injury, promote healing, and prevent infection. This is essential because it creates an optimal environment for the body’s natural healing processes to take place.

After a serious injury, the wound dressing is often applied by a medical professional such as a doctor or nurse after they have assessed the problem. However, the dressing needs to be changed regularly during the healing process, to provide a safe environment for new cell growth, to prevent infection, and for patient comfort. 

In many cases of non-severe injuries, your healthcare professional will allow you to change the dressing yourself at home, and provide instruction on when or how often this should take place. 

Preparing for Wound Dressing

Proper preparation is key to successful wound dressing. Start by gathering all the necessary supplies, including sterile gauze pads, adhesive bandages, antiseptic solution, and medical tape. Ensure that the area where you’ll be dressing the wound is clean and well-lit to avoid contamination and precise application.

How to Change Wound Dressing

The advice given to you by your healthcare professional should be followed, including what dressings and substances to use or avoid in the changing of your wound dressing. However, the general steps of changing a dressing are as follows:

Removing the old dressing

Carefully remove the old dressing, taking care not to disturb any scabs or newly formed tissue. If the dressing sticks to the wound, moisten it with saline solution to facilitate removal.

Cleaning the wound

Gently cleanse the wound and surrounding skin with mild soap and water or an antiseptic solution. Use a clean gauze pad to dab away any debris or excess moisture.

Applying medication (if necessary)

If prescribed by a healthcare professional, apply any prescribed medication to the wound as instructed. This may include antibiotic ointment or a topical antiseptic to prevent infection.

Applying a new dressing

Carefully place a sterile gauze pad over the wound, ensuring that it covers the entire area. If needed, use medical tape or adhesive bandages to secure the dressing in place.

Securing the dressing

Wrap a bandage or medical tape around the dressing to secure it firmly but not too tightly. Make sure the bandage is snug enough to stay in place but not so tight that it restricts blood flow.

Special Considerations

Different types of wounds may require specific care. For example, deep or puncture wounds may need to be packed with sterile gauze to promote healing from the inside out. Additionally, if you notice any signs of infection such as increased pain, redness, swelling, or discharge, seek medical attention promptly.

Tips for Effective Wound Dressing

  • Keep the wound clean and dry to prevent infection.
  • Change dressings regularly as instructed by a healthcare professional.
  • Monitor the wound for any signs of complications, such as redness, swelling, or pus.
  • Avoid applying excessive pressure or tension when securing the dressing to prevent skin irritation.
  • Follow any additional instructions provided by your healthcare provider for optimal wound care.

Proper wound dressing is essential for promoting healing and preventing complications. By following the proper guidelines, you can ensure that your wounds heal effectively and minimise the risk of infection. 

However, reading a guide is no substitute for hands-on first aid training. That’s why we recommend taking a first aid course if you want to learn how to properly deal with emergency situations and develop valuable skills such as wound dressing. To learn more, please get in touch.

If you have any concerns around changing a wound dressing, your first port of call should always be a medical professional, so contact your local GP or ring 111.