Wound Care for the New Millennium

Remember the advice we got growing up on how to take care of cuts–. dab some antibiotic ointment on it, bandage loosely, then leave it open to the air and let it alone to form a scab? Nope. This actually increases scarring.

For big cuts, like the set of stitches I got last week when I had a non-melanoma mole removed, here’s the modern protocol to heal faster and prevent scarring, which was news to me:

1. Keep the wound covered with a bandage until it heals. Change the bandage daily. You can let water or soapy water run over it, but don’t aggressively clean it.
2. When replacing the bandage, do cover the wound with a thin film of something like Aquaphor or Vaseline, to keep in moisture. Don’t use antibiotic ointments like Bacitracin and Neosporin. These can cause rashes and reactions. Avoid Target-brand bandages–they all contain antibiotic ointment.
3. Get the least adhesive bandage that will cover the wound and stay in place for a day. Tough and waterproof strips will irritate surrounding skin quickly. Paper tape to hold gauze in place sticks less well, but is far less irritating.
4. Avoid fish oil supplements. They’ve been shown to slow down healing.

And, for the record, this is a reminder that tanning beds, which I used often when I was young, are bad for you. Stop pretending they’re not. Real sun, in moderation and with sunscreen, if at all. The end.

One Response to “Wound Care for the New Millennium”

  1. Kate Says:

    Ayup. And can I recommend three products my surgeon uses? And are available on Amazon and I use every time I have to do wound care (at least once a year, if not more)? In fact, this combo of products, with an antibiotic Cetaphil soap bar, tube of Polysporin (which doesn’t cause the allergic reaction of Neosporin and should be used sparingly right after the cut/injury), Vaseline, and Q-tips, can take care of 90% of the first aid issues in my house. Also, this is just a PSA after years of product testing. :)

    I have incredibly sensitive skin when it comes to adhesive, and this stuff (Hypafix) bothers it the least, and is very flexible. For $8.50, this box will last you more than a year, at least:


    And for the non-adhesive pad, these don’t triple in size when you cut them down to size (like the drugstore Johnson & Johnson ones do) and will also last for years:


    Finally, if you’re the kind of person who removes her own stitches (What? The doctor is more than an hour away!) or if your stitches fall out, this is what my doc puts over the cut to keep it together in the final stage of healing: