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The skin, guarantor of our physical integrity, has to cope with countless aggressions from the environment: sun, insect or plant bites, burns, sources of friction, without forgetting the numerous blunt objects omnipresent in daily life. These repeated stresses inevitably lead to injuries of varying severity, which often require rapid intervention: hence the need to provide adequate first aid equipment.
Situations at risk
The scope of the individual intervention is naturally limited to minor traumas, such as cuts, superficial burns, blisters, bumps and other bruises: in short, all those evils which, without being serious, are still a source of considerable annoyance. Good sports-people or simple hikers are as interested as mothers in everyday life.
Some simple measures
In the case of a burn, the depth and extent of the lesion are decisive in choosing the attitude to adopt. In the presence of a minor first or second degree burn (redness, pain, sometimes the appearance of blisters), it is necessary to cool the affected area, clean it and apply a greasy dressing. A third degree burn (deep, but painless) must be covered appropriately, after which the patient must be referred to a specialized service.
Superficial sores should be cleaned, then disinfected with an antiseptic. Finally, a classic type adhesive patch is applied, which must be changed every day to make sure there are no infections. A sensible choice may also be a “second skin” type patch, formed by a first hydrophilic layer (pectin and / or gelatin and / or carboxymethylcellulose and / or polyisobutylene), which forms a protective gel in contact with the liquids that come out of the wound; a second optional polyester layer precedes an external polyurethane film.
This particular structure has very useful properties for healing: impermeability to water and bacteria (but not to gases), a slightly acidic pH, which inhibits the proliferation of germs, and finally a thermoregulation capable of maintaining a favorable humidity. The patch must remain in place for the few days required for healing, until it detaches spontaneously.
At home, in the car, during sports or leisure, it is therefore important to have the basic material to be able to administer first aid treatments, namely: an antiseptic, sterile compresses, a bandage, patches, to which can be added, if necessary, adhesive support bands to immobilize a sore limb, an emergency blanket, a water bottle, etc.
Various first aid kits are available in the pharmacy, in formats suitable for different activities. In the form of bags, cosmetic bags or pouches, they should be systematically present in our daily life. These sets, particularly useful, are often equipped with an additional compartment, to be accessorized according to specific needs: it is possible to store analgesics, warming creams, antiseptic eye drops and anti-mosquito lotions (particularly useful for camping and trekking).
A special case: blisters
A blister is the result of pressure and friction on the skin, which cause the epidermis and the dermis to heat up, then separate, causing an exudate to escape inside a bubble or flittene. The behavior to follow varies according to the stage of the lesion: redness, intact or perforated vesicle.
As a precaution, it is recommended to adapt the duration and pace of the activity to your habits and to the material used: pay attention to associations such as new footwear and long distance walking, tennis racket and occasional sportsman, tool handle on unexperienced worker.
Some practical ideas, such as blister socks (without seams) or sports shoes one size larger than our own size number (the foot swells during exertion), and you are ready!
If these precautions are insufficient and the skin is reddened and painful, it can be protected with a hydrocolloid patch of the “second skin” type, mentioned above. Thanks to its elastic consistency, this patch can also be applied to difficult areas. Its adherence is optimal on clean and dry skin (pass an alcohol swab over the affected area to “degrease” it).
Once the blister is formed, it is preferable not to puncture it, because its sterile contents protect the skin from infections. The liquid protects the dermis from possible abrasions, favoring scarring. We will then try to spare the blister by covering it with a hydrocolloid patch which, in case of rupture of the bubble and in contact with the liquid, would form a protective gel. If the blister is too swollen, a hollow patch may be applied to the center to transfer pressure to the periphery of the lesion. Pay attention to the practice of inserting a sewing thread into the vesicle with a needle! It is absolutely to be avoided. Finally, an open blister should be treated like a normal sore (see above).
The evolution of the lesion must always be monitored to prevent infectious complications. In the presence of a purulent transudate, with swelling and stinging, it is advisable to apply an antibiotic ointment or fat tablet, replacing the patch every two days. In this specific case, hydrocolloid products should be avoided.
Hydrocolloid patches: why?
Some people, such as diabetics or those undergoing long-term corticotherapy, have difficulty healing. In all these cases it is necessary to be vigilant and to consult the doctor in case of infection. Generally, the same attitude should be adopted if the infection persists, regardless of the person affected.
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