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Soft Tissue Foreign Body
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- A soft tissue foreign (FOHR-en) body is an object under your skin that should not be there. Examples are a wood splinter, a sliver of metal or glass, or a thorn. This object can be big or small. It may be deep under your skin or it may be right under the top of the skin. You may or may not be able to see the opening where the object entered the skin. Your skin may hurt, bleed, bruise, or swell after the object enters your skin. Some foreign bodies may cause an infection (in-FEK-shun) and need to be removed right away. Some objects may be safely left in the tissue. It may be more harmful to remove the object than it is to leave it.
- It may be hard for your caregiver to find all of the foreign objects in some wounds. An x-ray or other tests may be needed to help your caregiver look for objects. Numbing medicine may be put into the skin near the object before removing it. You may need a tetanus shot if you have not had one in the past 5 to 10 years. You may need stitches or other treatments because of your injury.
AFTER YOU LEAVE:
- Keep a written list of the medicines you take, the dose, and when and why you take them. Bring the list of your medicines or the pill bottles when you see your caregivers. Ask your caregiver for information about your medicine. Do not take any medicines, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs, or food supplements without first talking to caregivers.
- Always take your medicine as directed by caregivers. Call your caregiver if you think your medicines are not helping or if you feel you are having side effects. Do not quit taking your medicines until you discuss it with your caregiver. If you are taking antibiotics (an-ti-bi-AH-tiks), take them until they are all gone, even if you feel better.
Follow-up visit information:
Keep all appointments. Write down any questions you may have. This way you will remember to ask these questions during your next visit.
- Rest and elevate the injury: Avoid using or moving the injured area. If possible, raise the wound up on pillows, above the level of your heart. This helps to decrease pain and swelling.
- Caring for your wound: Always follow your caregiver's instructions for wound care. Your caregiver may want you to keep the wound dry for the first 24 to 48 hours. After that, gently clean the wound once or twice a day with cool water. Use soap to clean around the wound, but try not to get any on the wound edges. Do not use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to clean your wound unless your caregiver tells you to. Ask your caregiver if you should apply antibiotic ointment to the wound after cleaning it. The following are general tips for wound care.
- If you need to keep a dressing in place: Your caregiver may put a dressing over the wound before you leave. You may need to keep the dressing on for 24 to 48 hours, or until your follow-up visit. Ask your caregiver if it is OK to change your dressing if it becomes soaked with blood. If you must leave a blood-soaked dressing in place, add clean bandages on top of it. If your wound bleeds more than your caregiver told you to expect, call your caregiver.
- If you need to change your bandage yourself: Your caregiver may want you to change your bandage one or more times a day. If the bandage sticks to your wound, use warm water on the bandage and lift it off slowly. Always lift toward your wound, not away from it. Clean the wound and dry the area with a clean towel or gauze before placing a bandage back over it. Then, keep the area as dry and clean as possible.
- If your wound was closed with wound tape: Your caregiver may use wound tape or special adhesive strips to hold your wound closed. Keep the area clean and dry. The strips will fall off on their own after several days. Sometimes only half of the strip falls off, and you will need to remove the rest of it. If you have to remove a strip, gently pull it up towards the wound.
- If your wound was closed with a tissue adhesive: Caregivers may use a special tissue adhesive to close your wound. This adhesive is a special kind of "glue" that is made to be safely used on skin. Do not use any ointments or lotions on the area. You may shower, but do not swim or soak in a bathtub. Gently pat-dry the area after showering. Do not pick at or scrub the adhesive area. If the adhesive comes off too soon, call your caregiver. Never use your own adhesive to try and re-glue the wound back together.
- If your caregiver wants to wait before closing your wound: Sometimes a wound has to be left open for a few days before it is sutured (sewn) shut by your caregiver. This is called delayed closure. Ask your caregiver for more information about wound care for an open wound, or a wound that is packed with gauze.
- If you have sutures (stitches) or staples:
- Keep the area covered with a non-stick, sterile dressing for the first 24 to 48 hours after treatment. After that, you should gently clean the area as described above. Then, keep the area as dry and clean as possible. Your caregiver may want you to apply antibiotic ointment to the sutures or staples. Ask your caregiver if you should re-cover the area with a clean dressing, or leave it open to air.
- Ask your caregiver when you should have your sutures or staples removed. They may need to stay in for 7 to 14 days, depending on where the wound is on your body. Sutures on your face may need to be removed sooner. A caregiver will need to check your wound before the sutures or staples are removed. Some sutures will be absorbed by your body and do not need to be removed.
- Decrease your chance of scarring: A scar is the mark that stays on your skin after a wound heals. Using antibiotic or other ointment on your wound may decrease the amount of scarring that you have. Ask your caregiver what ointment to buy, and how often to use it. The skin of your wound area may turn a different color if it is exposed to direct sunlight. After your wound is healed, use sunscreen over the area when you are out in the sun. You should do this for at least six months to one year after your injury. Some wounds scar less if they are covered while they heal. Ask your caregiver if your wound should be covered with a clean bandage, or left open to air.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You have a fever, or any other signs of infection. Signs of infection may include increasing redness, swelling, a bad smell, red streaks coming from the wound, or pus. Pus is a fluid that drains from a wound that is infected. Pus may be white, yellow, green, or brown.
- You have pain in the injured area that does not go away or is getting worse.
- Your wound does not heal.
- The skin around your wound feels numb.
- You think you may have problems from your tetanus shot. After a tetanus shot, the shot site may get sore, swollen, red, and warm to touch. This is a normal response to the medicine in the shot. Call your caregiver if these signs last for more than a few days. Call your caregiver if you have severe (very bad) pain in the area where you had your shot.
- You still have bright red bleeding from the wound.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You have heavy bleeding or bleeding that does not stop after 10 minutes of holding firm, direct pressure over the wound.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.