Along the great stretch of the Gulf of Mexico, flesh-eating bacteria is becoming more prevalent in recent years. It’s not because flesh-eating bacteria penetrate the skin but because it has an open door to the human body, in the form of open wounds.
We’ve known since the beginning of time that open wounds are in danger of becoming infected. Waterproof plasters and bandages are essential, and they’re very easy to apply, along with a cleaning agent, such as antibacterial spray, applied beforehand.
It’s not difficult to waterproof a wound for swimming. If you’ve ever seen the results of a flesh-eating bacteria infection, you’ll recognize the necessity of waterproofing a wound before you get in the water.
How to Waterproof a Wound for Swimming
In almost all water sources, there are tiny bacteria that can wreak havoc if they penetrate a wound and settle in for the long haul. In the early stages of a wound, it should stay as dry as possible, including against tap water.
While small cuts and abrasions will probably be alright, larger wounds and open surgical wounds are much more important. There are several waterproof liquids and bandages useful for protecting and resisting water, depending on the location of the wound.
Preparation is often as important as the bandage, especially if you have oily skin, where even a waterproof bandage may slip and fall off in the water.
- Keep the wound clean and dry before swimming
- What is the water condition?
- Stay away from chlorinated water
- Allow your skin to breathe so choose the appropriate bandage
- Use plasters if a bandage can’t cover the wound appropriately
- Avoid swimming at all if your wound is significant
Before you swim, make sure the wound is clean and dry before applying a bandage or plaster to it. Also, ensure that either plaster or a bandage allows your skin to breathe, without allowing water in.
Before you apply a bandage, thoroughly wash and dry your hands. It’s not going to do you any good to protect a wound from the water if you’ve already ensured plenty of bacteria are under the bandage, making the wound accessible.
Clean and dry the wound before you apply plaster. Unwrap the plaster wrappings without touching the adhesive side. Place the adhesive side on the wound and remove the tabs. Wrap the wound as far as the plaster adhesive will stretch.
Standard Waterproof Bandages
You go through the same process as you would with a plaster bandage, by thoroughly cleaning and drying the wound first. Place the clean pad face down on the wound. Wrap each end around your arm, leg, foot, etc, and the other around to meet it and tie them off.
Importance of covering wounds when swimming
It doesn’t matter what kind of water it is, even if it comes from your own tap. Most of the bacteria found in tap water are completely harmless to us. However, it’s not completely harmless to an open wound.
According to most scientists, chlorination in the water supply fends off most bacteria. But, it doesn’t always get it all, especially if the level of chlorination is weak. Vibrio Vulnificus is the bacteria that leads to either Necrotizing Fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria) or Sepsis. Both infections are deadly.
Not only are they deadly, but the sheer amount of damage they can cause, even if you are eventually healed, is often debilitating to one degree or another for the rest of the infected person’s life.
Cellulitis is another bacterial skin infection. Not as horrifying as flesh-eating bacteria or sepsis, but aggravating and avoidable all the same. At the end of the day, your skin is your first line of defense.
Anytime the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous layers of the skin have all been compromised, you should exercise caution when getting into any kind of water. Of course, everyone has to bathe, but you should adequately prepare and protect deep wounds before doing so.
When Not to Swim
If you recently underwent major or minor surgery, that required cutting through all three layers of skin, you should stay away from swimming pools, beaches, rivers, and other recreational swimming areas until the wound has had time to heal.
Even if you have it bandaged well, it’s not worth the risk. Deep surgical wounds take longer to heal for obvious reasons, but they also allow bacteria to penetrate much deeper into the body than a shallow cut or abrasion.
You should also avoid heavily chlorinated water, such as a swimming pool that was recently shocked or simply has a high chlorine content (such as public pools). Chlorine, at those levels, is often a catalyst for infection, expediting the process more than salt water or freshwater lakes and rivers.
If you absolutely have to swim and risk exposure to a deep wound, you should clean and replace bandages regularly. Keeping your wound clean is every bit as important as keeping water out of it for the time being.
Plasters are usually the best protectants and resist water more than standard bandages. If you decide to go swimming, a plaster bandage with water-resistant gauze wrapped multiple times around the wound is the best application.
Once your wound has had a significant amount of time to heal, it’s considered safe to go in the water. However, until you have formed a new epidermis over the wound, you should play it safe and keep the wound covered, especially in public swimming areas.
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