Superficial Wounds: Keep them covered or let them "breathe"?

I’ve always heard you should allow you wounds to “breathe” for an hour or so a day if possible. I’ve got a deep cut right now on my thumb, and I’ve been changing band-aids twice a day, treating w/ hydrogen peroxide + neosporin each time.

Every other change of band-aids, I’ve been leaving the band-aid off for an hour or so, so that everything dries up and it’s not a moist, disgusting-looking wound 24/7. Is this a good idea, or should a band-aid + antibiotic be left on until the wound is fully healed?

Don’t use the hydrogen peroxide - it kills cells, not something you need in a recovering wound. Keep the wound covered, moist and clean.

I wouldn’t cut out hydrogen peroxide completely but you probably don’t need to use it all the time. It kills some cells but also inhibits the growth of bacteria by creating too stressful of an environment for it to live in. Maybe keep using neosporin in place of peroxide?

I think you should let it dry up. A few summers ago I took a spectacular trip on the pavement, skinning both of my knees :smack:. After treating my wounds I let them dry and scab and it looked like my wounds were on the path to healing. I sleep on my stomach so the pressure from the bed onto my scabby knees was drying me insane at night so I decided to put band-aids on them. I awoke the next morning to find the scabs a gelatinous goo and it was as if I had to restart the scabbing/healing process all over again. :frowning:

Does anyone use mercurachrome anymore? I remember my parents used to have it for us kids, for our scrapes, minor cuts, etc.

Keeping it clean is a good idea, but I am in the let it breath camp. (which translates into let it breath unless there is a risk of it getting filthy, in which case apply a barrier)

In my experience, wounds heal much quicker and better when open to the air, all other things being equal (meaning clean and medicated if needed)

I had a bad burn on my tummy once (freak accident involving a strainer of boiling pasta) and kept it medicated and covered for a week and it was a horrible, painful mess every time I changed the covering…finally just tossed the gauze and left it open and it healed in a few days.

Just my 2 cents.

Ps (missed the editing window) when my son was a toddler, he smashed his finger almost to the point of severing and our DR. applied antibiotic ointment and a strong band-aid and advised us to leave it on for at least a week. But that was more for the “cast” effect (holding the wound together until it had grown back together, which it did, perfectly, ftr) than due to any general keeping a wound covered ideal.

Otherwise, he generally advised keeping a wound clean and mostly uncovered; covered during the day when it might be prone to get dirty and open at night/during sleep. And the application of fresh medication and/or coverings in between, of course.

Not in the US. The FDA removed it from the “generally recognized as safe” and into the ‘untested’ classification in 1998, Merthiolate too.

The Master Speaks and stuff.

CMC +fnord!

I thought band-aids and bandages had been replaced by liquid band-aids. You know, the kind where you basically put a kind of instant glue on the wound, sealing it off from air and dirt, keeping the wound together as a side-effect? Beneath the layer of glue, conditions are moist, but according to the label, that makes it heal much faster.

For small cuts, I use band-aids mostly when I’m out and about, to protect them from dirt and assorted filth. At home (especially for sleep) I don’t use anything; I just make sure to keep the cut clean. When it dries out and scabs over, I stop worrying about it. I can’t remember ever having a cut get infected.

I’m one of those people who wriggle around in their sleep, if i leave my thumb uncovered while I’m sleeping, i’d wake up w/ a nasty scab full of blanket/sheet lint*, which can’t be good.

*From moving around and breaking open the scab, then further rubbing it on the sheets/pillow

ETA: Why yes, i have had this happen before multiple times, why do you ask? :slight_smile:

As a tool-challenged woodworker/hunter/abo my hands are almost never without a cut or a bruise of some sort. Often I have three or four once-bleeding such spots on my hands now in varying state of healing. I never cover my wounds, or even clean them, apart from running copious amounts of cold water over them, and I’ve never had problems with infection / pus/ delayed healing. I’m intuitively certain bagging my wounds with bandaids would worsen my track record. Healthy people have strong defense systems at work when minor wounds occur. YMMV.

Two medical axioms are involved:[ul][li]Minor wounds should be open to the healing effects of air and (especially) sunlight.[/li][li]Minor wounds should be protected from getting dirty.[/ul][/li]
Obviously, these two rather contradict each other. So for any specific wound, you have to decide which is more important/less risky for this case. A cut on a farmer’s hand is much more likely to be exposed to dirt than one on his face, for example, so covering the would would be more important.

Out of curiosity, assuming a reasonably healthy adult who sustains a cut or scrape and doesn’t cut themselves while handling raw sewage or something, is there any real risk of infection, let alone any sort of serious infection?

And also, wasn’t mercurochrome banned because people finally realized that pouring mercury-containing substances directly into their bloodstream was maybe not a great idea?

AFAIK, yes

But, I still use it anyway. It kills germs with absolutely no stinging or burning.

There is an appreciable risk of infection, due to staph and other bacteria that live on healthy skin, surfaces, and even inside nostrils, which is why you should wash it, even with just water, twice a day.

The dermatologists I work for do a tremendous amount of skin biopsies and suture surgeries, and they each have their own recommendations for wound care, but basically, wounds that are kept covered (with a bandaid) and moist (with Aquaphor or Vaseline) heal better, quicker, and with less scarring than wounds that are left to dry and form a scab. They don’t recommend Neopsorin because it’s a common allergen, which will make your wound red and itchy. They used to recommend Polysporin, but now say that the use of antibiotic ointments is contributing to the MRSA (antibiotic-resistant staph) problem. So wash the wound twice a day, and put on a fresh bandaid with Aquaphor or Vaseline on it. It can get really goopy and drain, but that’s normal and not a sign of infection. Signs of infection are swelling, increasing pain, and warmth to the touch. Of course, bandaids themselves can cause a red, itchy rash, in which case you’d want to use gauze and paper tape.

Yup, same for me. The band-aids only go on to keep blood off stuff or keep dirt out (if the cut is somewhere that is likely to get dirty). I usually bleed a cut well (squish even more blood out if it’s bleeding but not deep), apply isopropyl alcohol, and forget about it. I don’t scar much, either. I guess my skin just works well.

My RN mother (now an NP) always told us just not to get it dirty once we got the bleeding stopped. Presumably it will scab over quicky. She didn’t like that band-aid types bandages keep in moisture. I like to put super glue over the top. It makes a hard protective shield that keeps out water, and it peels off after about 2 days. This is also NP Mother-approved.

The Master Speaks

Clean (which can involve H2O2 sometimes or just soap and water) cover with antibiotic ointment then bandage.

I am not a real Doctor.