How to Dress a Wound: A Guide

When it comes to first aid techniques, wound dressing is as basic as it gets. Regardless of injury severity, the process is always the same.

Of course, the simplicity of dressing a wound doesn’t make it any less important. Proper wound care is essential to prevent infection and other complications. That makes it a big part of the recovery process.

Need a refresher on how to dress a wound? Here are the four steps you must take to care for wounds at home.

Assess the Bleeding

Before treating the wound, make sure to take precautions. Coming in contact with another person’s blood poses various health risks. If you can’t find protective equipment, just wash and dry your hands.

Then, assess the severity of the bleeding and try to stop it. Some bleeding is fine because it helps flush contaminants out of the wound. If you see bright red or squirting blood, though, it’s best to call 911 at once.

You should also call 911 if you’re dealing with a puncture wound that’s more than an inch deep and in a sensitive place. That includes the head, neck, chest, back, pelvis, and abdomen.

Clean the Wound

Once you’ve stopped the bleeding, clean the wound with running water. Use soap to wash the skin around the injury. It’s fine if some soap gets into the wound, though it will likely sting a bit and irritate the raw tissue.

Next, rinse the wound thoroughly to remove any leftover soap or dirt. If you see any small pebbles or pieces of glass, use tweezers to remove them. If it’s larger than that, it’s better to seek medical care.

Don’t try to use hydrogen peroxide to clean the wound. Not only it’s unnecessary, but it can also create oxygen gas, which is potentially fatal.

Cover the Wound

After cleaning the wound, pat the affected area with a dry towel. Then, use a sterile dressing or bandage to cover the wound. Adhesive bandages should be enough to cover most minor abrasions or lacerations.

If the cut is less than 2 centimeters long, you can hold it close with butterfly bandages. They’re also known as steri-strips—you can find more detail here. If you can’t pull the wound together, it may need stitching.

Keep in mind that types of dressings can be either modern or traditional. Each type has a variety of wounds that it can treat effectively.

Decide the Next Steps

If a laceration is deep enough, it will extend into the tissues under the skin. Seeing layers of tissue along the sides of a laceration means it’s pretty deep. In general, you should seek medical attention for a deep wound that is:

  • Inflamed (red and swollen)
  • Numb or tender
  • Draining pus (thick, yellowish liquid)
  • A laceration that won’t close

Otherwise, focus on cleaning the area at least once per day. Remove the dressing or bandage, then irrigate and clean the wound. Once you’re done, apply a dressing or bandage again.

That Is How to Dress a Wound

As you can see, learning how to dress a wound isn’t too complicated. As long as you follow our guide, you should do fine! That said, if it’s been a month and your wound hasn’t healed, it’s best to check in with a doctor.

Want to know more about providing first aid? Keep checking out our health-related content!