Pain Management When Changing Wound Dressings

Everyone has probably experienced some discomfort or pain while enduring bandage changing at some point or another. In the old days, before quality dressing materials, it could be an agonizing process to remove or substitute dressing. Thankfully, we have much better wound care products now, but it’s still common for patients to feel discomfort.
hydrocolloid wound care
What are the best ways to alleviate pain when changing wound dressings?

First Identify the Pain Source

The discomfort from changing dressings can come from four sources: 1) Background Pain, 2) Incident Pain, 3) Procedural Pain, and 4) Operative Pain.

Background pain relates to the wound etiology itself, including any infections sustained. Incident pain comes from moving around the wound site, which causes friction and may delay healing. Procedural pain involves the specific discomfort you experience during wound dressing, whereas operative pain stems from interventions like wound debridement (i.e., removing infected tissue).

It’s important to understand these because they’ll determine how much you can limit discomfort. Unfortunately, however, some of these are not always easy to avoid.

Ways to Control or Alleviate Pain

  • Select the Right Wound Dressing – It’s imperative to select a quality dressing material, one suitable for the particular abrasion, burn, bruise, etc. You can learn more about this by reviewing our previous article on choosing the right dressing for your wound.
  • Go Slowly When Removing – Contrary to popular belief, it’s not less painful to “just rip the bandage off.” Patience is an important virtue here. In fact, if you go too fast, you risk re-damaging the wound bed.
  • Use Analgesics & Skin Protection – For certain conditions, an opioid analgesic may be appropriate. If you elect to use these, remember to start them in advance to guarantee enough time to take effect.

Encourage Communication & Participation with Patients

If you’re a dedicated healthcare provider, it’s important to keep the patient involved when you work with them on something like this. It’s just as true of changing wound dressings as it is withdrawing blood or administering an inoculation.

Patients always feel better when you talk with them and create a friendly ambiance. It’s not always possible for a patient to remove their own wound dressing, but if they can, consider allowing them to help, which may reduce their anxiety.

You can learn all about wound dressing strategies and all our patented supplies whenever you work with Sarasota Medical Products. Even though over two-thirds of patients experience discomfort from changing dressings, there are ways to mitigate the problem. We’d love to go over these topics with you or answer questions, so call us anytime at 941-377-1451.