If you have a deep wound, your doctor may show you how to pack it. This helps keep the wound clean. It also helps it heal more evenly, from the inside out.
You may be able to pack your wound yourself. Or you may need someone to help you reach it. It's important to wash your hands and keep the area clean when you pack the wound.
Ask your doctor how often to change the packing and what supplies to use.
How to pack your wound
How to get ready to pack your wound
- Clean the table or sink where you will work.
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Cover your work area with a clean towel.
- Put a clean bowl on the towel.
- Lay out the rest of your supplies.
Don't touch the inside of the bowl.
How to prepare the packing material
- Pour some wetting solution into the bowl.
- Cut off some of the packing material.
- Cut a few pieces of tape, and have them ready.
- Remove the old bandage and packing.
- Wash your hands again with soap and water.
Use enough to cover your packing material.
Use the amount your doctor suggests. Place it in the wetting solution.
Throw them away in a small plastic bag.
How to pack your wound
- Put on gloves.
- Take packing material from the bowl.
- Fill the wound with packing material.
- Be gentle.
Gently squeeze it out. It should be wet, but not dripping wet.
Don't pack it too tightly. Use your fingers or a cotton swab to press the material into smaller areas of the wound.
Let your doctor know if it hurts too much.
How to place the outer dressing
- Open the package for the outer dressing.
- Keep the outer dressing dry and clean.
- Place the outer dressing over the packing and the wound area.
- Throw away your gloves, and wash your hands one more time.
This dressing is used to cover the damp packing material.
Tape it down securely.
When should you call for help?
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have symptoms of a new infection or of an infection that's getting worse, such as:
- Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
- Red streaks leading from the area, or red streaks getting worse.
- Pus draining from the area or more pus than the bandage can absorb.
- A fever.
- You have lots of bleeding.
- Your wound is changing color or has a worse odor.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- You do not get better as expected.
Current as of: August 2, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine