Rules for Wound Packing

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Wounds that are deep may require a special dressing called "packing." Packing a wound involves filling the wound with sterile material to absorb puss and keep bacteria away. This helps the deep tissues heal at the same rate as the outer tissues. In some cases, if the deep wound is not packed the outer skin will heal and the deeper tissues will form a cavity lined with scar tissue. Packing a wound can be uncomfortable. Knowing how to pack a wound properly can minimize discomfort and promote healing.

Prepare

  • Gather all of the needed materials. You will need sterile water, an ace bandage, a sterile roll of gauze, a cellophane bandage and surgical tape. Wash your hands thoroughly before you begin. Use latex gloves if you are filling a wound on another person. Once your hands are clean, rinse the wound with sterile water or peroxide if the doctor recommends it.

Packing

  • Look at the wound to assess the depth. Unroll enough sterile gauze to tightly pack the wound. Leave the length of gauze attached to the roll. Wet the unrolled portion of gauze in sterile water and pack it tightly into the wound. If the bone is visible, pack all the way down to the bone. Use the roll of gauze attached to the packed gauze as a topical dressing. Secure the roll with surgical tape. Do not allow the gauze inside and over the wound to move around. Friction will irritate the wound and interrupt the healing process.

Protection

  • Dress the packed wound with a cellophane bandage. Cut a square of cellophane large enough to cover the packing over the wound. Tape the edges around the cellophane to create a water-tight bandage. This prevents bacteria from entering the wound throughout the day and while showering.

Healing

  • Less packing material will be needed as the wound heals from the inside out. Be sure to adjust the amount of gauze used so that newly healed tissue does not tear. Allow the wound to air out from time to time once it begins to heal. Be sure to ask your physician how often you need to pack your wound.

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