How to Remove Gauze That Sticks to Wounds

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Attempting to remove a wound dressing that is stuck to the wound bed is painful and disruptive to the healing process. Some gauze dressings can be used to cover a wound and other gauze dressings may be packed into a wound. Drainage can dry on the gauze causing the dressing to stick to the wound. This adhesion can cause problems since as wounds heal they fill with new tissue and improperly removing a stuck dressing can rip some of that healthy tissue out. Knowing the proper steps to loosen a stuck dressing can make the person with the wound more comfortable and can decrease delays in wound healing.

How to Remove Gauze That Sticks to Wounds
(Yolanda Zaragoza Cano/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Tap water
  • Soap
  • Pain medication
  • Cotton-tipped applicator or cotton swab
  • Sterile normal saline
Step 1

Wash your hands with tap water and soap before attempting to remove the wound dressing. Dry your hands well.

Yolanda Zaragoza Cano/Demand Media
Step 2

Take your prescribed pain medication before attempting to remove the dry gauze just in case you experience any pain.

Yolanda Zaragoza Cano/Demand Media
Step 3

Apply sterile normal saline or tap water to the wound. For a small wound, wet a cotton-tipped applicator or a cotton swab with tap water or sterile normal saline and rub the swab over the stuck portion of the dressing. For a medium to large wound, pour sterile normal saline or tap water directly over the dressing.

Yolanda Zaragoza Cano/Demand Media
Step 4

Gently and carefully attempt to lift the gauze. Apply more water as needed to soften the stuck dressing.

Yolanda Zaragoza Cano/Demand Media
Step 5

Dispose of the used dressing. Wash your hands with soap and tap water.

Yolanda Zaragoza Cano/Demand Media
Step 6

Cleanse and re-dress the wound as ordered by the physician.

Yolanda Zaragoza Cano/Demand Media

Tips & Warnings

  • Discuss with your physician the use of a different type of dressing, such as a non-adherent gauze dressing, if you have problems removing your dressings.
  • Some dressing techniques, such as wet-to-dry dressings, are meant to be removed when dry. If you are performing this type of dressing change, contact your physician for advice related to wetting the dressing before removal. A wet-to-dry dressing is meant to debride the wound.

References

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