Wound packing is a medical process that involves inserting a long thin strip of gauze into a deep wound to prevent abscesses from forming. Prior to packing a wound, all materials and tools should be sterilized and assembled, since sterilization will help prevent a serious infection. The wound packing material can be inserted loosely into the would with either tweezers or a cotton swab, if necessary. A small amount of packing material can be left hanging out to make removal easier.
Medical professionals will sometimes recommend placing absorbent material inside deep wounds to keep them open. The packing material will absorb any drainage, which can help prevent abscesses from forming. It also causes the inside of the wound to heal before the outside of the wound, preventing uncomfortable pockets of internal scar tissue. Long, narrow strips of sterile gauze are common types of wound packing material.
Before packing a wound, all tools and materials should be sterilized to prevent harmful micro-organisms from entering the wound. Metal tools, such as tweezers and scissors, can be sterilized by soaking them in alcohol. The wound packing material should be left in the sterile packaging or container until ready to use.
Any person who is packing a wound should also wash his hands with soap and hot water. The use of surgical gloves is also recommended. Also, the area where the wound packing will take place should also be as clean and sterile as possible. All tools should also be assembled within easy reach before beginning.
The process of wound packing can sometimes be uncomfortable or even painful. To minimize discomfort, an over-the-counter pain reliever can be taken roughly 30 minutes prior to wound packing. Pain relievers that can cause blood thinning, such as aspirin and naproxen, should be avoided since this can result in bleeding problems.
The packing material should only be removed from its packaging when it is ready to be packed into the wound. The amount of packing needed will depend on the size of the wound. If using packing strips, the length does not need to be cut until the wound is packed. This will ensure that the proper amount of packing material is used.
Before packing a wound, some doctors recommend rinsing the cavity with a saline solution. Then, the packing material is simply inserted into the open wound. If the opening of the wound is small, the packing can be gently pushed in with sterile tweezers, forceps, or cotton swabs. The wound should not be packed too tightly, since this can slow the healing process.
After packing a wound, the packing strip can be cut off and any excess can be returned to the container. Leaving a very small “tail” of packing material hanging out of the wound will make removing and changing the packing material much easier. Generally, wound packing should be changed once a day, and the amount of packing used each day should be less and less as the wound heals.