Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Vaseline is a Wound's Friend

It's been a rainy, rainy spring.

I have this pair of flip flops that are old but oh so comfortable and I haven't found a suitable replacement pair. So I still wear them. Even though they no longer have tread and cause the wearer to slip at the slightest hint of water on the ground. Which just means that I have to remember when I can and cannot safely wear them.

Unfortunately a couple of weeks ago, I forgot to remember this point. In my defense, I went to walk the dog, and it was not raining at the time of departure. It did rain before we got home, but I actually slipped on a patch of overzealously watered lawn/walkway. And fortunately, don't ask how, I got away with a only couple of ugly scrapes on the foot.

The past weeks have been a lesson on wound healing. Suffice it to say that the conclusion is that I know very little about wound healing. I can tell you if a exploratory laparotomy scar looks well healed or "pussed out", or if someone has a skin infection, and have seen my fair share of nasty bed sores and leg ulcers, but have no idea what to do about the more routine scrapes. What I do know is that wounds heal faster and better when kept moist. Hence plastic surgeons and dermatologists, heck, even some emergency physicians, now slap on some bacitracin or other type of antibiotic ointment onto stitched up wounds.

--- Disclaimer: the faint of heart probably need not read any further. ---

So I set out on a mission to keep the wounds moist. Apparently, hydrogen peroxide for cleaning is NOT a good idea, because it damages the tissues more than it helps. Water, friends, water under pressure, is what it's all about when you're trying to clean out a wound. Too bad I found this out after using peroxide. Anyways, apparently, vaseline + band-aid is bad, as that led to maceration of the skin. But vaseline alone works. It seems to slow down and prevent a lot of the scab formation, which means it heals slower than expected. I mean, you're used to just seeing it dry out and scab over, after which it becomes itchy and gets scratched off. The delayed surface healing led to daily head scratchings as to whether or not what I was doing was correct. But now, more than a week out, I can safely say that keeping wounds moist is definitely the way to go. There's a small amount of scab formation, and most of the wound never scabbed over but is already pretty supple new skin with much less discoloration than expected. So the verdict is, vaseline is a wound's friend.

Probably more than you ever wanted to know about scrapes... :)

Disclaimer: This is not a medical advice blog. Wounds that are deep or infected, or otherwise dirty (ie dog or HUMAN bites) may need more treatment than the wound described above. Please see your primary care provider for any worrisome wounds.


Blogger A Dockling's Quacks said...

i bumped into your post when googling up vaseline and wound healng. it really does work! my bf's mom swears by it, and no she aint a doc. n i was driven to finding out more about this when my bf decided to go with his mom's Rx! n here i am!
anyway, its funny that this should work, coz all thru med school we've been taught how not to put things over wounds(including wound friendly vaseline) and now we have non-medicos who obviously think otherwise!
good penning doc, and neat motto @ always learning.

5:19 AM  

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