How to Remove Gauze That Sticks to Wounds

iYolanda Zaragoza Cano/Demand Media

Attempting to remove a wound dressing that is stuck to the wound bed is painful and disruptive to the healing process. Some gauze dressings can be used to cover a wound and other gauze dressings may be packed into a wound. Drainage can dry on the gauze causing the dressing to stick to the wound. This adhesion can cause problems since as wounds heal they fill with new tissue and improperly removing a stuck dressing can rip some of that healthy tissue out. Knowing the proper steps to loosen a stuck dressing can make the person with the wound more comfortable and can decrease delays in wound healing.

iYolanda Zaragoza Cano/Demand Media

Wash your hands with tap water and soap before attempting to remove the wound dressing. Dry your hands well.

iYolanda Zaragoza Cano/Demand Media

Take your prescribed pain medication before attempting to remove the dry gauze just in case you experience any pain.

iYolanda Zaragoza Cano/Demand Media

Apply sterile normal saline or tap water to the wound. For a small wound, wet a cotton-tipped applicator or a cotton swab with tap water or sterile normal saline and rub the swab over the stuck portion of the dressing. For a medium to large wound, pour sterile normal saline or tap water directly over the dressing.

iYolanda Zaragoza Cano/Demand Media

Gently and carefully attempt to lift the gauze. Apply more water as needed to soften the stuck dressing.

iYolanda Zaragoza Cano/Demand Media

Dispose of the used dressing. Wash your hands with soap and tap water.

iYolanda Zaragoza Cano/Demand Media

Cleanse and re-dress the wound as ordered by the physician.

Tips

Discuss with your physician the use of a different type of dressing, such as a non-adherent gauze dressing, if you have problems removing your dressings.

Warnings

Some dressing techniques, such as wet-to-dry dressings, are meant to be removed when dry. If you are performing this type of dressing change, contact your physician for advice related to wetting the dressing before removal. A wet-to-dry dressing is meant to debride the wound.

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