Wound care (part 2 of 2)

Can stitches get wet?

flickr.com/photos /ouistitis/ 6052645034

flickr.com/photos /ouistitis/ 6052645034

Yes. Stitches can get wet anytime. We often suggest that stitches stay dry for the first 24 hours, but studies have shown that there’s no increased risk of infection or wound breaking down if it gets wet in the first 24 hours.

When should you take prophylactic (a medicine used to prevent infection) antibiotics?

Prophylactic antibiotics have little benefit in healthy patients with clean wounds. Topical antibiotic ointments may decrease infection in minor contaminated wounds. Prophylactic antibiotics are often started after human bite wounds, or deep puncture wounds.

Do I need a tetanus vaccine?

Maybe. If you have never received a tetanus vaccine, a tetanus toxoid vaccine should be given as soon as possible. If you have not completed a primary series of tetanus immunizations (at least 3 vaccines) if your last tetanus booster was 10 or more years ago, then a booster is warranted.

How are wound infections diagnosed and treated?

If you have any of the following symptoms, your wound may be infected—

  • redness,
  • warmth,
  • pain,
  • enlarged lymph nodes near the wound,
  • swelling,
  • fever (temperature more than 100.4), or
  • pus.  The treatment of wound infections depends on the severity of the infection, type of wound and the suspected bacteria in the wound.   Antibiotics will be started based on the potentially causative organism. If a culture of the wound can easily be obtained, this will be send to the lab so that the bacteria can be grown out.

When does a wound require hospitalization of referral to a wound care specialist?

Most wounds can be managed by your family physician in the office. However, there are several reasons for hospitalization or referral. Severe wound infections. If wound may need surgical exploration, incision and drainage,  imaging or plastic surgery.

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About drlesliegreenberg

I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients. Follow me on Facebook at Leslie Md Greenberg Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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