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10 Wound Care Remedies: Facts or Myths

Surprisingly, some are actually true.

Ann Moises

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  • Proper wound care is essential to prevent infections and complications.
  • There are several detrimental beliefs that we should never practice when caring for wounds.

Proper wound care is vital to help ease pain, promote faster healing, and most importantly, to prevent complications resulting from infections. Of course, how we treat our wounds depend on the severity and type of the injury, and the available resources we have at the time.

Every culture has different beliefs about which remedies and practices actually work. Most of them have been passed down for generations and are surprisingly factual. However, some “facts” have actually been mixed with falsehood. Here we will see which of these practices are worth following – and which ones are just mere tales.

Myth #1. Always use running alcohol or hydrogen peroxide when cleaning wounds.

No. For minor and superficial wounds, it is best to rinse with cool water, or use a gauze pad or clean cloth soaked in saline solution than to use antiseptics. Cleanse the wound with water for five to ten minutes, and use soap to remove dirt and bacteria around it. Be careful not to put soap on the wound itself.

Rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are effective in killing harmful bacteria, but it could also damage the skin and surrounding healthy tissues. Health care professionals should treat deep and major injuries.

Myth #2. Wounds need air to heal.

While oxygen is necessary to promote healing, bandages prevent dirt and bacteria from penetrating and potentially infecting the wound. Moreover, it keeps it from rubbing against clothing.

It is vital to note that wounds need to be cleansed and bandages or dressings have to be replaced with sterile ones at least once daily. Bandages also help keep wounds moist and boost healing.

Myth #3. Adhesive bandages should be quickly ripped off.

A 2009 study conducted by the Medical Journal of Australia showed that ‘fast bandaid removal causes less pain than slow bandaid removal.’ Although this may be beneficial in terms of pain, yanking adhesive bandages increases the risk of pulling off the scab and reopening the wound.

If there’s scab attached to the adhesive tape, lightly soak it with water. Also, gradually peel the tape in the same direction as the hair growth to lessen the pain.

Myth #4. Butter is beneficial for burns.

This has been a popular folk remedy for burns but there are no scientific studies that support this claim. In fact, applying butter or most any lotion on burns could be detrimental – except lotions with large quantities of aloe vera juice – according to the Winchester Hospital Health Library.

Butter would only seal the heat and trap local contaminants; thus, promoting infection.

Myth #5. Small wounds do not warrant further care.

Although most minor injuries are self – limiting, that does not mean they should be taken for granted. Proper wound care is still necessary to avoid infections.

Myth #6. The deeper the wound, the greater the pain.

Pain receptors or free nerve endings are located under the skin’s surface. These nerve endings respond to temperature changes and events associated with tissue damage. Therefore, superficial injuries like paper cuts often hurt more than deeper ones.

However, bleeding may occur when the wound is deep so you may need to see a doctor.

Myth #7. Seawater promotes wound healing.

Infectious disease and tropical infection expert Bart Currie of Flinders University at Royal Darwin Hospital said:

“The evidence base for sores and wounds and being in the sea is not clear because situations are very different based on a number of factors.”

These factors include your immune system, the state of your wound, the condition of the ocean, and whether you are in the tropics, ABC Life wrote.

Currie advises that since the ocean is an unsterile environment, people with open sores and weak immune systems should avoid it altogether. Salt water may be full of contaminants that could further harm and infect an open wound.

Myth #8. Itching is always a good indication that your wound is healing.

When wounds start to itch, it could mean that it’s already beginning to heal. According to Advanced Tissue, the Naked Scientists explained that “a wound that’s closing up will feel itchy for mechanical and chemical reasons which are precisely the reasons why those nerve cells get stimulated in the first place.”

However, if it presents with redness, pus, and if the itch turns to a throbbing sensation, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Myth #9. You can use ants to stitch up your wound.

Yes, ants have been used as sutures since the Neolithic period. According to Ideas.ted.com, Buddy Ratner, director at the Research Center for Biomaterials at the University of Washington said, “If you hold the two sides of the wound together, and put the little pincers of these guys on there, they bite down hard. It’ll hold the wound closed.”

Grasping an army ant behind the head stimulates it to open its mandible wide and bite. Once it clamps on the wound, the body is detached leaving the head to serve as a ‘staple.’

“The ant head stays in that locked position until the wound is healed and is then removed,” said Entomologist Justin Schmidt of the University of Arizona.

One species commonly used is the suturing army ant Eciton burchelli, found in Central and South America.

Myth #10. Super glue can be used to close wounds.

You can but it is critical to note that there are two kinds of glue. One of them is what you usually have handy in your tool box, while the other type should be included in your first aid kit.

Super glue have been used in WWII by medics to close soldier’s injuries in the battlefield. Although effective, it was harmful to the tissues surrounding the wound and had caused irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.

After years of testing different formulations, the US Food and Drug Authority approved a less toxic medical formulation called Dermabond (2-octyl cyanoacrylate) in 1998.

Medical cyanoacrylate adhesives, also referred to as skin glue or surgical glue, are optimal for clean, minor cuts like knife or paper cuts. However, for highly mobile parts, such as joints mouth, hands, and feet, sutures are recommended.

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