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How to Remove Slough from a Wound

By Adelaide Damoah ; Updated July 27, 2017

In the context of wounds, slough is dead skin tissue that may have a yellow or white appearance. It is important to remove this tissue to prevent infection and promote healing. Infection can lead to death of the surrounding tissues (necrosis), which can be very dangerous to the patient. The technical term for the removal of slough is debridement. One method of debridement is to use enzymes, which are biological or synthetic proteins that speed up the rate of reactions occurring without themselves being used up. At the time of writing, there is one approved enzyme marketed for the purposes of debridement called Santyl ointment.

  1. Wear medical gloves for sanitation purposes. Place the affected limb or body part over a sterile gauze.

  2. Irrigate the affected area with sterile saline. Pour enough over the wound to clean it as thoroughly as possible.

  3. Carefully dab the wound with a sterile gauze to remove any excess saline.

  4. Apply some of the ointment to a sterile gauze. Carefully apply the ointment to all areas of the wound. The ointment should be applied so that it is as thick as a dime.

  5. Dampen a sterile piece of gauze big enough to cover the entire wound with sterile saline. Take the rolled up dry gauze and completely cover the damp gauze, using medical tape to secure it in place.

  6. Leave the wound alone for 24 hours, then remove the dressing. Repeat this process every 24 hours until all traces of slough have been removed and the wound is clean and healing up nicely.

  7. Warnings

    Santyl is a prescription-only product and should be used under the care and guidance of a physician or other qualified health care provider.

    If bleeding occurs and continues after applying pressure for more than 10 minutes, seek medical attention.

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