wound care

With the cooler months rapidly approaching, our skin can be the first aspect of our being that is affected by the changes in temperature.  

Changes in temperature of the skin, along with environmental and systemic factors, can all lead to skin breakdown and therefore wounds. The skin – being our largest organ – protects us, but how do we protect it? 

Wound care must always be approached from a holistic viewpoint; that is, the wound is attached to a person, therefore all aspects of that person’s well-being needs to be considered before a ‘dressing’ is applied to cover a wound. Wound care products alone are not the only answer to good wound care. If the goal of care is to heal, then all wounds should be covered and a moist wound healing environment promoted. Good skin assessment and skin care is pivotal to providing optimal wound care.

Aside from selecting an appropriate wound care dressing, ask the person about their nutritional status. How much protein are they consuming as increased protein intake is required to heal wounds. Decreased mobility can play a role in the development of wounds also, which can be a factor in the cooler weather. 

Principles of wound management include the following; defining the aetiology of the wound, devising goals of care in collaboration with the person, their family and other relevant health care professionals, identifying factors affecting healing, developing an appropriate plan of care and importantly, evaluating whether the goals of care have been achieved. 

Caring for a person’s skin and wound should be a high priority for all health care clinicians, at all times of the year.  In caring for the skin and promoting optimal skin care the development of wounds can possibly be reduced and at the very least, can be identified early.

Key tips for ensuring good skin care and preventing wounds:

  • A visual check of a person’s skin from ‘top to toe’ conducted at least daily, is a vital aspect of ensuring that any changes to the skin are identified early and therefore an appropriate management plan is initiated. 
  • Encourage fluid intake – especially water, not caffeinated drinks . 
  • Ensure soap free washes and apply a hydrating moisturizer at least daily
  • Aim not to overheat the skin, fabrics such as synthetics can do this, cotton is a better alternative. 
  • Protect the skin if required – there are sleeves available that protect the skin on the limbs from potential trauma. 

Author: Melinda Brooks

Nurse Practitioner Wound Management