Think you know all there is to know about wound care? There are many myths surrounding wound care that have probably been passed down from generation to generation. Many contain a kernel of truth, while others are completely untrue. Either way, we’re here to set the record straight and clear up many common misconceptions.
Top 10 Wound Care Myths
1. Bandages should be ripped off quickly.
The idea behind this is simple; it will hurt for a second, but then it will be over. However, ripping a bandage off quickly can take some of the scab with it, reopening the wound. It’s recommended that you remove your bandage slowly, peeling in the direction of your hair, and if you see the scab is attached use some warm water to soften it and then continue peeling.
2. Wounds need air to heal.
While some oxygen is necessary, bandages are designed to allow some air to get through. It’s best to keep a wound covered to protect it from dirt, bacteria, and ultimately infection (and to keep it from rubbing against clothing). Bandages also help keep wound edges together to speed up healing. It’s important to change your bandage or dressing frequently, however.
3. Always use alcohol to clean a wound.
You’ve seen it in countless movies; the hero has a wound, so they crack open a bottle of booze and pour it over the wound while yelling out in pain. Unless there’s not a better option, cleaning a wound with alcohol, rubbing alcohol, and even hydrogen peroxide can actually harm the tissue and delay healing. Instead, minor wounds should be cleansed with cool running water and mild soap for about five minutes to remove dirt, debris, and bacteria; for larger wounds, treatment should be sought.
4. Small wounds require less care.
Many people are unphased by small wounds, but left unattended, even a little scrape can turn into a big problem if it gets infected. So, regardless of the size of your wound, it’s always best to cleanse it immediately and bandage it to prevent infection.
5. Butter helps heal burn wounds.
This one has been around for a while, and it’s simply not true. While it may initially feel soothing to rub it on, butter and other greasy substances actually trap heat under your skin, causing more damage. Your best bet for a minor burn is cool water, and seek treatment for anything more severe.
6. Itching is always a good sign.
The keyword here is “always”; while an itchy wound can occasionally be a sign of healing progress, it may actually indicate that the wound has become infected. If you’re feeling the itch and see any signs of infection, consult with your physician.
7. Deeper wounds equal greater pain.
Ever have a paper cut? Stings like heck, right? So, the idea that a deep wound always hurts more than a surface wound is not true. There are a large number of nerve endings just under the top layer of our skin, and superficial abrasions or burns often cause more pain than a deep wound. In addition, in the case of deep wound burns, most of the nerve fibers under the skin are destroyed, resulting in a lack of pain sensation.
8. Seawater helps heal wounds.
Those of us who grew up around the ocean have no doubt heard this one; it probably originated in old seafaring novels. While saltwater can help disinfect some bacteria, seawater can be highly contaminated with chemicals, germs, and microbes, especially on coastlines, which can actually increase the risk of infection or other complications. So, despite what you’ve heard, it’s best to stay out of the ocean until your wound has healed.
9. You can use Super Glue to close wounds.
Technically, you could, but it’s not recommended. Super Glue is a cyanoacrylate adhesive, and it contains toxins that can be harmful to tissue. So, keep it in your toolbox. For the medicine kit, however, the FDA has approved a less toxic, more flexible formulation (2-octyl cyanoacrylate) called Dermabond. It dries fast, stops the bleeding, keeps out dirt and air, and typically stays in place until the cut is healed. It is not, however, recommended for deep or jagged wounds, use on mobile areas such as joints, or contaminated wounds.
10. You can use ants to close wounds.
Surprise! This one is a fact, but thankfully we have much better wound closure alternatives. However, in some cultures, large ants are used to suture wounds. First, the ant is provoked so that it bites the two edges of a wound, pulling them together. Then, the insect’s body is quickly removed, leaving behind the head which acts as a clamp. We’ll let you Google the pictures on your own if you’re so inclined!
One last myth? That your surgical wound closure options are limited to sutures, staples, and glues. Today, the latest development in wound closure technology is BandGrip Micro-Anchor Skin Closures. BandGrip offers a quick and non-invasive closure option offering many benefits to patients:
- Reduced risk of infection
- Less scarring than sutures or staples
- Supports better mobility
- Allows for showering after 24 hours of application
- Does not require a return visit for removal
- Looks like a typical adhesive bandage