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Disinfecting a wound with saline solution

Published on June 28, 2022 at 18:05

From your youngest child falling on the asphalt to your spouse injuring themself while building the patio, minor injuries are a part of everyday life. It's important to know what to do when the situation arises. A first aid kit is good, but you still need to know how to use it.

The contents of the perfect kit

There are ready-made kits available, but putting together your own kit may be worthwhile to ensure that you have the right products for your situation. The PSST! Guide to Preparing a First Aid Kit is a valuable tool to help you do this. It can be found online or requested at your local branch. Its contents will differ depending on the context in which the kit may be used. For example, you will not have the same kit for camping as you will for your home.

What to use to clean a wound

Many believe alcohol and peroxide are the best products to clean wounds.  However, this is not the case! These products can be irritating and delay healing. Alcohol is best used to disinfect instruments, such as tweezers to remove a splinter. Cleaning the wound with water and mild soap or a saline solution is preferable. If necessary, a chlorhexidine-based product should be used to disinfect after cleaning.

What is a saline solution?

A 0.9% saline solution is often referred to as a physiological serum because the solution is dosed at the same concentration as the human body. This solution has the advantage of adequately cleaning the wound without pain.  This solution can be purchased in pharmacies in different formats.  However, it is important to choose a format that is adapted to the use that you will make of it because it cannot be used for further use. Indeed, once opened, the solution does not remain sterile for long, and microorganisms can develop, which would be harmful to the wound that needs to be cleaned.

Recipe for homemade saline solution

You can make a homemade saline solution. Boil a cup of water with ½ teaspoon of salt for 15 minutes. Ideally, the solution is made every day so that it is always fresh and free of microorganisms.  Be careful! You must use the saline solution at room temperature (not too hot, not too cold).

Dakin’s solution is also an excellent homemade alternative for disinfecting wounds.

Steps to clean a wound

Here are the five steps to clean a wound:

  1. Clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Remove debris from the wound with saline or tap water.
  3. If the wound is visibly soiled, a chlorhexidine-based disinfectant can be used.
  4. For subsequent dressing changes, gently clean the wound with mild soap and water or the saline solution and rinse thoroughly.
  5. Gently pat dry without rubbing.

It is necessary to clean from the center to the outside of the wound to avoid spreading microbes that are outside the wound.  Wadding is to be avoided; compresses are preferred as they will not leave threads in the wound.

When to use a dressing

The dressing keeps the wound moist and prevents debris from becoming lodged in the wound. If in doubt, consult a health professional.

Although it should be changed regularly, there is no need to change your dressing too often. It is necessary to change it only if it is soiled or soaked with liquid.

When to consult a healthcare professional

It is necessary to consult in the following situations:

  • The wound is deep.
  • The wound is bleeding profusely.
  • The wound has a necrotic appearance. 
  • The wound is near a body orifice or an eye.
  • The affected person has not received their tetanus vaccine. 
  • If the affected person is known to be immunosuppressed or has a precarious condition.

In the days following the injury, it is essential to follow the evolution of the wound and consult a healthcare professional if an infection appears (redness, heat, significant pain and presence of pus) or if the person's general condition deteriorates (e.g., a fever). In all cases, if you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to consult a healthcare professional, such as your pharmacist.

The drugs and pharmaceutical services featured on the website are offered by pharmacists who own the affiliated pharmacies at Familiprix. The information contained on the site is for informational purposes only and does not in any way replace the advice and advice of your pharmacist or any other health professional. Always consult a health professional before taking or discontinuing medication or making any other decision. Familiprix inc. and the proprietary pharmacists affiliated with Familiprix do not engage in any way by making this information available on this website.