Beauty & Wellness

8 Wound Care Misconceptions Debunked So You Know What To Do When You Or A Loved One Gets Injured

Wound care misconceptions debunked

We’ve all had those moments – seeing a loved one get a cut or burn and immediately thinking, “Bring out that rubbing alcohol to clean the cut” or “Put ice on that burn”. You might have seen your parents take these actions but in actuality, some of these traditional wound care methods do more harm than good.

Believe it or not, these wound care mistakes are made more commonly than you think. That being said, here are 8 wound care misconceptions that you need to be wary of when you’re caring for an injury the next time.

1. Exposing wounds to air heals them faster

Myth: Leaving your wounds to dry and exposing them to air will heal your wound faster.

Reality: If you’ve got a kid, it’s not uncommon for them to trip while playing around resulting in a scrape on their knees or arms. While most would just let the wound air-dry, putting on a plaster instead is definitely the better option. When wounds are exposed to air, they dry easily, which slows down the healing process. 

What you should do is use a plaster to cover up the injured area. This prevents contaminants in the air like unwanted germs and bacteria from entering the wound, as well as offers a layer of protection for more sensitive abrasions. For any type of cut or scratch, it is important to keep these areas clean, covered, and in a controlled moist environment for optimal healing. 

2. You should use rubbing alcohol to clean wounds

Myth: Rubbing alcohol has strong disinfection properties and helps to keep wounds clean and sanitised. 

Reality: Picture this – you have a raw, bloody wound and you apply rubbing alcohol, a potent solvent, to it. That’s going to hurt really badly. But more importantly, your tissues may get damaged. 

To break it down, rubbing alcohol consists of a compound called isopropyl alcohol (C3H8O). This chemical is usually found in “cleansing” products like hand sanitisers and mouthwashes. While these products with lesser amounts of C3H8O are safe to use, rubbing alcohol contains a higher concentration, making it toxic to the skin, especially for long-term use. 

Rubbing alcohol also has dehydrating properties, thus, killing the microbes needed for healing. It may be unsuitable for sensitive wounds and for use on children too. Instead, you should simply use a mild soap and water solution to thoroughly cleanse and disinfect the wound.

3. Plasters encourage bacterial growth

Image credit: Hansaplast

Myth: Using plasters on wounds will cause bacteria to grow and worsen the wound. 

Reality: Plasters should be your bestie when it comes to wound care. They actually act as a physical barrier, preventing contaminants from touching the wound. This makes it impossible for pathogens, dust, and bacteria to infect the wound. 

Some plasters are even made of absorbent material, absorbing any excess moisture from the wound, thus lowering the chance for any bacteria buildup to occur. Oh, and please change them daily. You’ve got to clean the wound again and apply a new dressing, which ensures a rather constantly clean environment for wounds to heal faster.

4. Cleansing wounds with tap water is sufficient

Myth: Water is neutral and safely washes away blood from wounds, thus cleaning them thoroughly.

Reality: Water on its own is definitely not enough to clean your wounds. You might be wondering “Huh, but our tap water should be safe, what?”. Well, that’s right, but water also lacks any type of antiseptic or disinfectant properties needed to properly kill off germs and effectively remove bacteria from the wound.

For deeper wounds, cleaning them with just water is inadequate since water isn’t able to penetrate deep enough to clean the entire wound. And if you’re using tap water, you need to consider the pipes’ conditions as they might lead to non-sterile water flowing out of your taps. This may increase the risk of infection when in contact with the wound. 

Just like before, use mild soap with distilled, clean water or bottled water to properly clean your wounds. 

5. Popping blisters can boost healing

Myth: Pop your blisters to remove the excess fluid and speed up healing.

Reality: If you’re an active sports player or shoe-holic, you’ll know how common it is for blisters to form after a few hours of playing or when breaking into new shoes. And a number of us feel this strong urge to pop our blisters to get rid of the pus build-up. Well, don’t. 

Bursting a blister exposes the raw skin to bacteria and contaminants, therefore increasing the risk of infection and even permanent scarring. When a blister forms, it acts as a natural barrier to protect the injured skin, so popping it removes this protective layer and worsens the wound. 

The fluid in blisters should also be retained as it acts as a cushion to reduce friction, and speeds up the healing process. It’s best to avoid any direct contact with your blisters, keeping them in a clean and covered state. Just apply an antiseptic cream to your blister before putting on a plaster to boost the healing process. 

6. Scabs forming mean your wound is healing quickly

Myth: When scabs form over wounds, it means that they are healing fast. 

Reality: Let’s first understand how scabs work – cells, specifically platelets, clump together when the wound bleeds and eventually dries up, forming a layer of scabs. 

In actuality, scabs affect the growth of new cells and healthy tissues, as well as prevent cells from moving across the wound to close it and stop bleeding. They also limit the oxygen exchange that’s needed during tissue regeneration. Plus, they can get quite itchy, causing wounds to re-open when we scratch them, and the entire healing process to restart.

Moral of the story: to reduce scab formation, always keep your wound covered with a plaster so your wound doesn’t dry out easily and scab.

7. Ice will help soothe burns

Myth: Apply ice to wounds to cool down and soothe your burns.

Reality: While using ice to cool your burns seems intuitive, scientifically, it doesn’t make sense. When a cold surface like ice makes contact with your skin, it causes blood vessels to constrict and blocks inflammation. This isn’t helpful because the good nutrients and immunity cells needed aren’t able to travel to the burn, delaying the healing process.

Ice may also cause frostbites, and further damage the skin’s protective barriers, which could allow pathogens to enter. So, the next time you’re baking and you accidentally burn your arm, just cool it under running water instead. Don’t forget to apply a proper antiseptic cream or gel too – specifically for burns, to kickstart the healing process. 

8. You should only use antibiotics to treat wounds

Myth: Only applying antibiotic creams helps treat wounds.

Reality: By now most of us are aware that antibiotics don’t work on viruses. But guess what, they don’t work on all bacterial infections either. So, don’t go using topical creams anyhow. Using antibiotics when they are not needed can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

If the wrong creams are used on the wrong injuries, this boosts the antibiotic-resistant bacteria to grow, which causes a hindrance to treatments of infections in the future. 

These antibiotics may also only target the surface of the wound, leaving the inner layers of injured or damaged tissues untreated. In this case, you should seek the advice of a medical professional first and get a prescription for the appropriate antiseptic treatment creams to use on your wound. 

Protect & heal your wounds with Hansaplast

It’s always good practice to have a first aid kit ready in the case of any unexpected injuries – be it scratches, cuts, blisters, or burns. For starters, a kit usually includes different sizes of plasters, disinfecting spray, and healing ointments.

Hansaplast is a one-stop solution for all your at-home wound care needs thanks to their full line of products.

Hansaplast’s plasters (from $2.60) are a must-have no matter where you are. We’re talking all kinds and variations – there’s the sensitive version for wounds that need extra care and waterproof extra tough ones for areas that get washed often. These plasters block bacteria while staying breathable, so your skin will not get irritated easily.

There’s a plaster set for kids too with cute designs that come in different sizes. 

For those who don’t like the feeling of something sticky on your skin, you can go for the Hansaplast Wound Spray ($6.25) instead, which is a more pain-free method and you can go about your day after spraying a protective layer over your wound.

Not forgetting the Hansaplast Wound Healing Ointment ($9.50) that promotes faster wound healing and reduces scarring. This is perfect especially if you’re using it on children and babies. All of these products can be purchased in-store at Guardian, Watsons and FairPrice, or online at Shopee or Lazada

Now that we’ve debunked some of the common wound care mistakes, you should have a better idea of how to treat your minor wounds. Have a few Hansaplast products at home or handy on the go cause you never know when your shoe bite turns into a blister or when your little one is going to injure themselves.

Find out more about Hansaplast products

This post was brought to you by Hansaplast.
Photography by Shawn Loh.

Iffah Nabilah Norhisham

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