Dressing Change

A dressing is a material placed over wounds. It keeps the wound clean, dry, and protected from further injury. This provides an environment that favors wound healing.


  • Get your supplies together. Things you may need include:

  • Saline solution.

  • Flexible gauze dressing.

  • Medicated cream.

  • Tape.

  • Gloves.

  • Abdominal dressing pads.

  • Gauze squares.

  • Plastic bags.

  • Take pain medicine 30 minutes before the dressing change if you need it.

  • Take a shower before you do the first dressing change of the day. Use plastic wrap or a plastic bag to prevent the dressing from getting wet.


  • Wash your hands with soap and water. Dry your hands with a clean towel.

  • Put on your gloves.

  • Remove any tape.

  • Carefully remove the old dressing. If the dressing sticks, you may dampen it with warm water to loosen it, or follow your caregiver's specific directions.

  • Remove any gauze or packing tape that is in your wound.

  • Take off your gloves.

  • Put the gloves, tape, gauze, or any packing tape into a plastic bag.


  • Open the supplies.

  • Take the cap off the saline solution.

  • Open the gauze package so that the gauze remains on the inside of the package.

  • Put on your gloves.

  • Clean your wound as told by your caregiver.

  • If you have been told to keep your wound dry, follow those instructions.

  • Your caregiver may tell you to do one or more of the following:

  • Pick up the gauze. Pour the saline solution over the gauze. Squeeze out the extra saline solution.

  • Put medicated cream or other medicine on your wound if you have been told to do so.

  • Put the solution soaked gauze only in your wound, not on the skin around it.

  • Pack your wound loosely or as told by your caregiver.

  • Put dry gauze on your wound.

  • Put abdominal dressing pads over the dry gauze if your wet gauze soaks through.

  • Tape the abdominal dressing pads in place so they will not fall off. Do not wrap the tape completely around the affected part (arm, leg, abdomen).

  • Wrap the dressing pads with a flexible gauze dressing to secure it in place.

  • Take off your gloves. Put them in the plastic bag with the old dressing. Tie the bag shut and throw it away.

  • Keep the dressing clean and dry until your next dressing change.

  • Wash your hands.


  • Your skin around the wound looks red.

  • Your wound feels more tender or sore.

  • You see pus in the wound.

  • Your wound smells bad.

  • You have a fever.

  • Your skin around the wound has a rash that itches and burns.

  • You see black or yellow skin in your wound that was not there before.

  • You feel nauseous, throw up, and feel very tired.