Community pharmacies have long been centres for the treatment of minor wounds resulting from accidents, sporting injuries or other mishaps.
The role of community pharmacists in wound care reflects their significant healthcare training over the years as well as their on-the-job experience in treating the sorts of wounds and injuries that present at a community pharmacy.
It is important to recognise that if you suffer a serious wound you may need treatment at a hospital or by a doctor. Even for minor wounds it is advisable to see a healthcare professional rather than simply self-treat with bandages and so on from non-health suppliers like supermarkets.
The most common wounds treated in a pharmacy cover those resulting from cuts and grazes which could have been caused by accidents, sporting injuries and the like. Burns are another kind of wound regularly treated by pharmacists and these can include sunburn as well as burns from open fires, heaters or hot liquids.
Some pharmacies now offer a wound care service within the pharmacy and a person seeking treatment for a wound at a pharmacy will most likely be first examined and questioned on how the wound occurred before it is washed and cleaned to ensure there are no foreign bodies like dirt, glass, stones etc in the wound. If the pharmacist is unsure that the wound has been cleared of all foreign matter they may refer you to a doctor or hospital emergency department.
The next step is that the pharmacist will try to stop any bleeding and then dress the wound.
Wounds however need ongoing treatment and the patient is also likely to be counselled on how to clean and redress the wounds and also how to look for any signs of infection or if and when to seek further medical advice.
The pharmacist may also advise on any pain relief that may be required and also on the need for good nutrition and skin care for wound healing rates to be maximised.
If you are diabetic, special care needs to be paid to any wound and you should inform your pharmacist immediately if you suffer from this condition.
Diabetes can cause conditions that make it harder for wounds to heal. These include:
- Nerve damage so you may not feel the pain of a cut or blister until it has worsened or become infected.
- Weakened immune system so the body’s natural defences are down and even a minor wound may become infected.
- If you have clogged arteries in your legs you are more likely to have severe wound infections and have problems healing.
- Narrowed arteries makes it harder for blood to get to the wound. Blood flow promotes healing, so anything that blocks it can make wounds more likely to become infected.