Wound management is the evaluation, treatment, and prevention of open injuries. Wounds can be caused by injury, chronic health conditions, or surgery. Proper evaluation and treatment of wounds is extremely important to minimize the risk of uncontrolled bleeding, infection, and other serious complications.
The first step in wound management is to assess the cause of the wound and determine whether the wound is acute or chronic. Acute wounds are typically injuries caused by trauma or accidents, such as burns and cuts. Chronic wounds include ulcers, sores, and other wounds due to chronic conditions, such as foot sores due to diabetes and surgical wounds.
Doctors must assess a patient's complete medical history to determine what factors will affect wound healing. Patients who are young, in good health, and have good circulation typically heal faster than older patients and those with chronic health conditions. Wounds that are exposed to extreme temperatures, pressure, or chemical and mechanical stress also tend to heal more slowly. Patients who eat a well-balanced diet with adequate amounts of vitamins C, A, K, and B, zinc, and copper usually heal quicker as well. Certain medications, including anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids, can delay the wound healing process.
First aid wound management for wounds caused by trauma is extremely important. Pressure should be applied to bleeding wounds, and the wound should be examined for debris and contamination. Most wounds should be washed in soap and warm water as soon as possible to cleanse the area and prevent infection. Large cuts may need to be stitched closed to seal the area. Most wounds are covered with sterile dressings, such as bandages and gauze, during the healing process to keep them clean and free from external bacteria.
Care for chronic wounds follows many of the same procedures as that for wounds caused by acute trauma. Surgical and other chronic wounds should be kept clean and covered with sterile dressings in most cases. Patients who have recently undergone surgery are at a higher risk for infection, so it is especially important for these patients to undergo proper wound management and treatment procedures.
Wounds that become infected can cause serious complications. Infections can spread to other tissues and organs, causing further illness and injury. Wound infections are often treated by cleansing the area with water containing antibiotics. Oral or intravenous antibiotics are often administered to fight the infection and other medications to relieve pain, inflammation, and fever are also commonly given to patients with wound infections. In severe cases, surgeons may need to remove damaged tissue and limbs to prevent the infection from spreading.