Wound Care for Open or Sutured Wounds, Mohs Surgery Clinic
This handout explains how to care for your wound or sutures once you are home. We will review this with you. If you have any questions after you go home, please call the phone number at the end of this handout.
When to Do Wound Care
You should start wound care on _______________________. Keep your dressing clean and dry until then. Clean your wound _________ times a day until the crust has come off and the skin has healed over the area or until the sutures are removed.
Care of the Wound
1. Wash your hands well with soap and water.
2. Take off the old dressing. If it sticks, wet the edges of the dressing with water, or remove it in the shower.
3. Shower once a day with the bandage off or clean the area under running tap water. Lather gently with soap and water, then rinse and blot dry.
4. Surgicel® may have been put on your wound to stop bleeding. When it comes in contact with blood it turns black or brown. This is normal. The Surgicel® will slowly come off as the wound is cleaned. Do not force it off. If some remains, it will fall off later.
5. Apply Vaseline® (white petrolatum) in a thin layer. You may use a clean cotton swab to apply the ointment, rolling the swab gently over the wound.
6. Cover with a telfa pad or a band-aid thick enough to soak up any drainage and protect the wound. Keep your wound covered with a clean bandage.
Supplies you will need to buy
- Clean cotton swabs (Q-tips®)
- Vaseline® or white petrolatum
- Band-AidsP® and/or Telfa® pads or clear strip, sensitive skin Band-Aids®.
Avoid the use of alcohol, ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, or medicines that contain aspirin while your wound is healing unless approved by your doctor. They may increase the risk of bleeding.
If there is bleeding:
1. Apply direct pressure by pressing firmly over the site for 10 minutes (timed by the clock). If bleeding has not stopped, use pressure for 10 more minutes (timed by the clock).
2. If bleeding still has not stopped, call the clinic at (608) 263-6226 or go to your local emergency room.
3. Reinforce, but do not remove, the soiled bandage unless directed to do so. You could disturb the clot.
Swelling and Bruising
This is fairly common, but goes away in 2 to 3 weeks.
If your wound is on your face, head, or neck:
- Sleep with your head raised on 2 pillows to reduce swelling.
- Avoid bending with your head below heart level.
- Swelling around the eyes and neck is normal if you have had surgery to the forehead, eye area, nose or cheeks. Swelling will be worse in the morning and improve during the day. Expect that swelling may persist for 3 days or longer.
If your wound is on your arm or leg:
- Keep your arm or leg raised as much as you can. Wounds on the arm or leg may heal more slowly than other areas. These measures will help prevent swelling and promote healing.
- Use a compression stocking or Ace wraps if told to do so.
Apply ice or cold compresses to prevent and reduce swelling if told to do so.
- Do not apply ice right on the skin. Ice should be placed in a plastic bag then wrapped in a towel and applied to the bandaged wound.
- Ice should be kept on for only 15 minutes at a time.
Most patients have little or no pain. If your wound hurts, you may take Tylenol® per package directions. Avoid medicines that contain aspirin or ibuprofen while your wound is healing unless approved by your doctor.
Discharge pain medicine:_______________________________
If you have a sudden increase in pain that is not relieved by pain medicines and ice compresses, please call the clinic at (608) 263-6226. You may have bleeding under your skin and need treatment.
- Do not do heavy activity for the first 2 days or as instructed.
- No swimming or use of hot tubs until your wound is fully covered with skin.
- If you have stitches on the cheek or in the mouth area, avoid chewing on that side and talk as little as you can. Eat soft foods and rinse your mouth after eating or drinking. Avoid smoking.
Infection is not common when the wound is well cared for. If you notice any of these signs of infection, please call the clinic.
▪ Increased pain or swelling of the wound
▪ Pus or smelly wound drainage
▪ Redness spreading out from the wound
▪ Warmth around the wound site
There is always some scarring from any wound. Time improves most scars. Cover-up make up may be used after the wound has healed. Sunscreen should be used on scars after healing. Some people may develop very thick scars, or keloids, which may need extra medical care. Call our office if this occurs and we will schedule a follow up visit.
If you have questions, concerns, or urgent needs once you are home, call the Mohs Surgery Clinic at (608) 263-6226. After clinic hours and weekends, the clinic number will be answered by the paging operator. Ask for the Mohs Surgery doctor on call. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, and have a non-urgent concern, call toll free: 1-800-323-8942, during regular clinic hours and ask for the Mohs West Surgery Clinic.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 05/07/2012
Copyright © 05/07/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4251
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