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How often do you change bandages over a cut?

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  • How often do you change bandages over a cut?

    My horse scalped the front of his cannon bone. It wasn't too deep, but kind of big. I changed the bandage today after 3 days and noticed a bit of an odor. Not gross, but I noticed it. There was some drainage. How worried should I be? Should I change the bandage more than every 3 days? It was staying on well, so I figured I would leave it alone. (The full length of bandaging was 7 days.) (non-stick pad, gauze roll, gamgee, vet wrap and elasticon(I think that's what it's called) top and bottom.) Scrubbed with betadine and put antibiotic cream on it. Cut is about 2" wide by 6 or 7" wide, just the fur and skin gone.

    I've always been for letting things heal, but I've never dealt with a wound like this before. Would you call the vet out due to the smell (it really wasn't bad, I was sticking my nose in the removed bandage to check.)

    Part is on the front of the hock and that part (separate from the other part) is not covered since it's was smaller and my horse was not tolerating a bandage there.

    I'd love any ideas on how to best treat this. There's no heat or swelling now (there was some swelling when it happened.)

  • #2
    I would suggest changing the bandage at least every 24 hours. 3 days is a long time, especially for a horse who can't tell you that something is up.

    The triple antibiotic ointment (as you can buy for humans) is good stuff. I would not rescrub with betadine, just open, inspect, and add fresh ointment and bandage.

    If the odor persists tomorrow after the fresh bandage and it looks like there's any pus or heat or swelling, then I'd be thinking about the vet.
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


    • Original Poster


      I was feeling it every day to check for heat and pain, but will change it more. Horse is a bit grumpy about being bandaged (he crazy walks if you so much as put a bell boot on a hind foot.) So I was trying to keep from pissing him off too much. He's mellower after dark, so I've been going out and changing it after he finishes dinner.

      Darn, I might miss some quality time with my MIL since she's coming to town tomorrow. JK.


      • #4
        A smell could indicate an infection is setting in, and I would get after this right away!

        I have always changed bandages TWICE a day when treating a wound. My mare got a small puncture wound which was slightly infected when detected.

        This was my routine, to treat the wound:

        AM and PM remove bandage, cold hose and betadine wash. Dry leg, apply antibiotic ointment. Cover with nonstick cotton and vet wrap.

        Once all trace of infection was gone, I moved to washing and cold hosing the leg once a day.

        Once all swelling and heat was gone, I stopped washing, and just redressed once a day. I would still check the wrap in the AM to make sure it was secure and dry, but changed it only in the PM.

        And once, the wound was closed, the wrap was removed.
        APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


        • #5
          "Just the fur and skin gone" is confusing me -- do you mean skin GONE? or roughed up? Did it bleed? Are there ragged edges?

          I'm asking this because my first inclination would be to not bandage it at all. I would cold-hose it (maybe not directly on it but around the area and above it) and spray on something like Vetricyn. But that's ONLY if it really is a scrape, which in my experience is unlikely to form proud flesh. If proud flesh is a possibility, then yup, bandaging is appropriate.

          It doesn't sound like the type of wound that's prone to infection, so I'm very surprised there was a smell at all. I guess 3 days is a bit longer than I've left a bandage on a minor cut, but I've definitely gone 2 days. It can be moist and sticky (serum + ointment = yuck) but no smell other than damp ointment-y odor. Which isn't great LOL.
          Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.


          • #6
            sounds like the same thing one of my mares did recently---scraped the hair and skin in some places off the outside of her right hind. Big area, but all superficial. For the first 2-3 days, I changed it twice to once a day, now I change it no more than every other day.

            The odor could also just be the bandages.


            • #7
              My mare had a similar scrape a couple years ago. I used platelet-rich serum from the vet, wrapped it every 3-4 days. Healed beautifully.


              • #8
                Ask what your vet says or see if you can talk to a vet tech at your vets office but I would say to change it every day at least and more if it gets soiled. I would clean it with sterile saline (0.9%) and apply triple antibiotic or furacine or corona.. something like that. I would think air would need to get to it daily and that you want to monitor it for drainage, infection, granulation tissue.. etc.


                • #9
                  My vet usually recommends two days when he wraps the first time and every day after that. But for just a scrape like you describe I'd probably change twice a day, personally. At least every day. And as soon as it's healed over some I'd probably leave it open with something on it like alufilm so it can breathe.
                  It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.


                  • #10
                    Yes, for a fresh wound, 3 days is usually too long. I would change every day at first to gauge how the wound is, or isn't, healing. I would hate to find out 3 days later I could have prevented some level of infection

                    THEN after things start healing well, you could go longer.
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                    • #11
                      In many cases, every other day changes work better than daily.
                      One reason is that most people can't resist the urge to mess with the healing wound, and end up traumatizing the new epithelial edges attempting to cover said would.

                      Think about it--we often put a *cast* on distal limb lacerations (think heel bulb) to facilitate healing. Those certainly don't get changed very often.
                      "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                      ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                      • #12
                        I'm with Ghazzu on this and may even go so far as to suggest 3 days before changing that bandage. There is a difference between the smell of decomposing serum (good stink) and the smell of infection; I think it is a distinction every livestock, not just horse, owner should learn.
                        Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

                        Member: Incredible Invisbles


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by sk_pacer View Post
                          I'm with Ghazzu on this and may even go so far as to suggest 3 days before changing that bandage. There is a difference between the smell of decomposing serum (good stink) and the smell of infection; I think it is a distinction every livestock, not just horse, owner should learn.
                          OP is already going 3 days between changes.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ponysize View Post
                            OP is already going 3 days between changes.
                            And being urged by others to do multiple changes in a single day.
                            "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                            ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by JoZ View Post
                              "Just the fur and skin gone" is confusing me -- do you mean skin GONE? or roughed up? Did it bleed? Are there ragged edges?
                              the skin is gone gone. about 2" wide by 6" high. It bled a bit and we removed some jagged edges when it happened. There was too much gone to stitch and it didn't go past all of the skin depth wise. Just a big patch of raw infection prone flesh. I am worried about proud flesh as well. I am not super concerned about cosmetics since my horse is a semi-retired 22yo, just healthy healing. Another horse at our barn had a similar injury not too long ago (totally different circumstances) and it healed up really well, so I've been using the same methods her vet had her use. Which was compression bandage for two weeks (changing every 3 days.) I will call my vet and ask, but unless it's infected I don't think there's much he can do for it.

                              Thanks for all of your inputs!


                              • #16
                                Just wanted to say that I've had a very similar wound on my horse, and my vet recommended only changing the bandage every 2-3 days as well. healed up very well.


                                • #17
                                  If flies are no longer around can you leave the bandage off? I personally would clean it once/twice a day and medicate it liberally ( triple antibiotic ointment, etc) sometimes a bandage can keep things too wet and soft. Or maybe bandage 12 hrs off 12 hrs. I think leaving things open to the air aids healing.

                                  As it starts to fill in and heal you will notice proud flesh and can treat for that.


                                  • #18
                                    If it's seeping, see if you can get hold of some 3M activated carbon dressings--the serum just soaks through and leaves a dry clean surface against the wound. I bought a box online last time we had an ugly wound to deal with here and they really helped keep everything clean and tidy. (They work well for infected wounds too for the same reason.)

                                    The Telfa dressings I find tend to get soggy and hold too much moisture against the wound.

                                    Then, if you are a good dressing-applier, and your dressing will stay in place, you can leave it on for 2/3 days, which is what my vet recommends for most efficient healing with minimum scarring. Yes, it is going to whiff a bit when you unwrap it, but there is a big difference, as Big T says, between serum and sepsis.

                                    I do a dressing, a thick layer of absorbent gauze sponges, wrap the whole lot in place firmly but not tightly with wide brown gauze, then vetwrap, then elasticon to the (clipped) leg. That lot isn't going anywhere... you will need bandage scissors to remove. A little pressure from the bandage will keep proudflesh at bay.


                                    • #19
                                      On something like the boo-boo you're decribing, I'll change a bandage after 24 hours the first time just in case I missed something when I first cleaned it up. Then I'll usually change every other day. I'll let it go three if the bandage is still in good shape. As soon as I can, I'll leave the wound open to air to finish healing up.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Thanks everyone! It looked much better last night. I hosed it a little, but it started seeping blood- which I guess at least means healthy flesh (but I think I'll try and leave it alone more to allow it to close over.) I did use the triple antibiotic on the wound. The part on the hock that was left uncovered looked tons better - very happy with that. I plan to leave this bandage on til Friday night (it went on about 8pm last night) and try and do some serious hand grazing this weekend letting it be open. I'm hoping last night was cold enough to kill all of the flies. We're getting close. I'll look into some of the supplies that were mentioned! Nice thing about living in Colorado is that everything dries a lot faster here due to our lack of humidity.