Post-operative Hygiene and Wound Care

Post-Operative Hygiene And Wound Care.

Going into hospital for an operation or procedure can be frightening enough for most patients without the worry of getting an infection following surgery so it is important to understand how these incidences can be prevented.

Post-Operative Wound Care.

Wounds are usually closed in layers are using stitches, staples or skin glue. All of these methods are suitable depending on the nature of the wound and will protect the wound from re-opening. Dressings are given to prevent bacteria and other pathogens from being able to settle and grow in the disrupted tissues. Patients must realise that these things exist for their own health and safety and should refrain from tampering with them until they are healed or they have been told that they are safe to change their own dressings. It can be very tempting to take a little look at your wound following surgery but this increases the chances of developing an infection.

Hygiene And Wound Care.

It can be difficult maintaining hygiene whilst in hospital especially if your surgery has altered your normal level of mobility but it is essential to try and keep clean and dry. A simple wash using warm water and soap should be enough to help keep germs and bacteria away. Patients also have the right to ask staff to wash their hands before any direct contact and wash and change their bed when needed. The staff are there to care for you and protect your safety and will be happy to oblige. The government are introducing new schemes that encourage both staff and patients to be proactive in the fight against infection and this should be encouraged at all times.

After Discharge.

Wound care does not just start and finish in a hospital as there are many things patients can do at home to help prevent an infection getting onto their wound. It is not uncommon for patients to go home with their stitches still in situ which may need removing at a later date. Although many people are now given absorbable stitches, there are some who still need the non-absorbable ones. Stitches and scars can become itchy as the wound heals and it can be very tempting to scratch the itch but this should be avoided at all costs. Not only might it introduce bacteria to the wound but it may affect how the scar heals and how the stitches are holding the wound together. Patients who do experience itching must not give in to the urge and resist it until the doctor or nurse removes them or they have completely dissolved.

Stitches are usually remove 7 – 10 days after surgery or will have disintegrated or be below the healed surface of the skin within around 3 weeks depending on the type of stitch used. Do not ever try and remove the stitches yourself as this seriously increases the risk of infection and may stop the wound closing properly. If you are concerned about your stitches or feel the wound is re-opening please see your GP or Practice nurse who will assess your wound. Dressings may need changing and your nurse may suggest you do this yourself if you feel able.

Always remember to wash and dry your hands thoroughly using warm water, a gentle soap and a clean towel before changing the dressing. Unless you have been explicitly told to keep the wound dry for a specified period of time, most people feel most comfortable soaking the old dressing off in the bath or shower before reapplying the new one.

Hospital acquired infections and wound infections are a very serious occurrence and their prevention relies on not just the healthcare staff but the patients themselves.

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