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Table 3 Methods of wound cleansing

From: Acute wound management: revisiting the approach to assessment, irrigation, and closure considerations

Cleansing method Description Purpose Potential risks
Compress Gently pressing excess moisture from a moistened gauze/cloth applied to the wound and removing after wound contact to remove surface debris. The cycle can then be repeated Astringent action (coagulate protein) to remove surface debris from the wound • The compress can stick to the wound surface or there may be local pain from application or removal
• Faulty technique can introduce infection
Irrigation Steady flow of solution across wound surface Hydrate the wound • More trauma if pressure too high
Remove deeper debris • Splash back
Assist with visual exam • High pressure may drive bacteria into deeper compartments
Soaking Immersion of wound in solution applying an over-hydrated cloth or gauze to the wound surface (no removal of excess moisture prior to application) Hydrate the wound • Disruption of moisture balance
Allow for physical removal of debris • Maceration of surrounding skin
• Impaired healing with introduction of bacteria from immersion fluid