Medical Mythbusting 102: Wound Air

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Time to debunk a Medical Myth!

Your wound does not need air.

Shocking! You'd think it should get some oxygen, not be covered up under a bandage all the time, and will heal faster if it dries out, right? You'd be wrong.

When you have a wound--whether it's an ingrown toenail, diabetic ulcer, or surgical incision--we want to keep it free from infection. The world is dirty, and especially the world around your feet: shoes, dirt, bugs, puddles of slimy water, and more. Your diabetic wound needs to have a man-made barrier between it and the rest of the bacteria-filled world until your skin has a chance to fill in the void and once again become your natural barrier. When your doctor recommends a certain kind of bandage be placed daily, or once a week, or on some other regular schedule, you should follow those directions exactly. Your wound does not need to "air out."

Some people are under the impression that oxygen will make your wound heal faster, and they're right! The tricky thing is that your skin can't absorb oxygen through the air. Your skin receives its oxygen from the circulating blood in the body, and cannot process the oxygen in the air right next to it. Letting your wound "get some air" doesn't actually increase its access to oxygen. Keep that surgical wound covered, and let your body's circulatory system give the incision the oxygen it needs through internal means.

The most important reason we want your angry, ingrown toenails covered is because getting sock fuzz, shoe bacteria and fungus stuck to the border of your nail can make things much worse. Instead of just requiring the removal of a portion of the toenail, you may have to be put on antibiotics, too. Keep debris out of the wound!

Bottom line: if you're waiting to see your doctor about a wound, keep it clean, and keep it covered, and change the dressing daily to keep it fresh. If your doctor gives you other instructions when you see them, follow their directions.

Bandages are the barriers that keep wounds clean and protected, and will ultimately help your wound heal faster, and with fewer complications.

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Guest Thursday, 21 September 2017

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