A Stinky Situation: When Wound Odor is a Problem

You may have become desensitized to it, but If your patient has odor in the wound bed, consider it a problem that you need to fix.

A Stinky Situation: When Wound Odor is a Problem

 

As healthcare clinicians, in a way, we are lucky.  We become desensitized to things we encounter over and over again, they just don’t bother us like the first time we were exposed. This stands true for those wounds with odor. We almost become immune, yes we are aware the odor is there; but to our noses it is not an issue. The real issue is for our patients and their friends and family. Odor is subjective. Depending on the patient and family members ability, they may be very much aware of the odor. It can be very bothersome to the patient and their loved ones. The patient maybe embarrassed by it, and may try to self-isolate. They may not want to have people around them because of the way their wound smells. This is something as wound care clinicians we need to fix.

The first thing we need to look at is, what is causing the odor? Is it from necrotic tissue that supports the growth of anaerobic bacteria? Is it from a high level of wound exudate? Is there an actual wound infection? Do we have the wrong wound dressing on the patient?

Once we figure out the cause then we need to remove it, whether its debridement of necrotic tissue, managing the high level of exudate with dressings or using Negative Pressure Wound Therapy; we need to find what works.  With an actual wound infection, treating with antimicrobial dressings or antiseptic’s/antibiotic’s are a must to remove the organism causing the infection and the odor. Sometimes just changing the dressing more frequently will help.  Using dressings like those with activated charcoal, or those dressings with medical grade honey in them may help the wound odor. Another option is topical Metronidazole Gel to the wound bed, this may help eliminate wound odor as well.

Just because the odor in the wound bed isn’t offensive to us as wound care clinicians, doesn’t mean it isn’t offensive to others. As a rule, if your patient has odor in the wound bed, consider it a problem that you need to fix.

 

Wound Care Education Institute® provides online and onsite courses in the fields of Skin, Wound, Diabetic and OstomyManagement. Health care professionals who meet the eligibility requirements may sit for the prestigious WCC®, DWC® and OMS national board certification examinations through the National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy® (NAWCO®). For more information see wcei.net.

 

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A Stinky Situation: When Wound Odor is a Problem.

You may have become desensitized to it, but If your patient has odor in the wound bed, consider it a problem that you need to fix.

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