A Summer with Wounds and Scars Can Still Be Fun

Outdoor fun is calling—this summer more than most. But people with healing or chronic wounds may think they can’t enjoy the outdoors like they once did. While you do need to take some precautions, you do not have to postpone summer because of a skin wound.

Can I swim with a wound?

It depends on whether your wound is open or closed. All sources of water are potential sources of infection. Pools aren’t quite as bad as the ocean, and these are certainly better than brackish lakes and slow-moving streams; however, no standing water source is really completely safe for open wounds. If you don’t have a layer of skin over your wound, the best bet is to avoid swimming until it has healed. If your wound is closed, it is important to prevent water from getting through the bandage and to the wound itself.

How do I protect my wound while outdoors?

You can protect your wound from excess moisture, dirt, and contaminants by applying the proper bandage and medical tape. Completely cover the wound with a waterproof bandage and then reinforce every border of the bandage with waterproof tape. If water can get to your wound, then infectious microorganisms can get to your wound, too. Remember that you will likely be more active while you are outdoors, so pick a medical tape that conforms to your body’s joints and crevices and that continues to adhere while you move. All medical tapes can hold a small bandage on your upper back, but few can hold in place on moving feet, knees, or elbows.

Keep it clean

Most outdoor activities come with a bit of dirt and grime. Dirt that adheres to the outside of bandages—especially when it is carried by sweat—increases the risk of contaminating your wound. Choose bandages and medical tape that are occlusive and washable. Wash lightly soiled bandages promptly with mild soap and water. Heavily soiled bandages should be changed as soon as possible. When you are packing for your picnic or hike, make sure to pack extra supplies so that you can properly clean, dress, and tape your wound.

A little moisture is good for healing wounds…

While you should keep standing water out of your wound, wounds do need to be slightly moist to ensure proper healing. Summer breezes and ocean winds may feel nice on your skin, but they can dry out wounds that are not properly covered and dressed. As your body’s own moisture evaporates from your wound, the cells that fight infection and the cells that heal wounds cannot function properly. Again, select an occlusive bandage and occlusive medical tape. These supplies help keep harmful water out and help keep helpful moisture in the wound. (Also, remember to drink plenty of low sugar, non-caffeinated fluids to stay adequately hydrated) 

…but too much moisture is bad for wounds 

How much moisture in a wound is too much? This issue can be challenging for people who are new to wound care. If you remove your dressing and the wound bed has a thin sheen of moisture, it is well-hydrated. If you see fluid leaking or oozing from the wound, it is not a good sign. Nonetheless, seeing a bit of excess clear fluid is not as bad as seeing colored fluid or pus (e.g. green, yellow, or white). Excess clear fluid can be managed but starting with an absorbent (i.e. hydrocolloid) bandage and then covering that bandage with a waterproof bandage and waterproof medical tape. Other types of excess fluid may indicate a wound infection, which should be medically evaluated.

Protect scars from the sun

Just because your skin is “healed” it doesn’t mean you should let the sun rays strike your scar. Scar tissue, such as the closed edges of a sutured surgical incision, is not like healthy, natural skin. Scars are quite delicate in many ways. Scars are especially sensitive to UV radiation. The sun’s rays temporarily tan skin, but they can permanently discolor scars. UV radiation can also interfere with the skin’s healing process. In short, always protect your scar from the sun. Sunscreen alone is not sufficient because as it wears or washes off, damage from the sun on the exposed scar can occur quite quickly. Fortunately, a simple piece of high-quality, UV-resistant medical tape is all the scar protection is usually all that is needed. 

Special precautions for people with diabetes

People with diabetes have an extra duty when it comes to pursuing outdoor summer fun. Not only do they have to properly care for existing wounds, but they need to make sure to prevent new injuries. Once a diabetic foot wound starts, it is quite hard to treat, so prevention is crucial. While summer is usually the time for flip-flops, people with diabetes should avoid wearing them. Instead, wear shoes with firm soles, closed toes, and sides that completely cover (and protect) the feet. Also, periodically check your feet for incidental cuts or scrapes.

Selecting the right medical tape for outdoor summer fun

As we’ve discussed, the ideal medical tape to protect wounds this summer is one that is 

  • Waterproof
  • Occlusive
  • Washable
  • Conforming and holds to the body (even joints and folds)
  • UV-resistant

Hy-Tape has all these properties. It holds firm even against wetness and sweat. It’s washable and occlusive, so it resists soiling and can hold up to soap and water. Hy-Tape fits the unique contours of the human body and can remain in place even on the most active summer fun seekers. Just as importantly, Hy-Tape has a UPF 50+ rating, which means this medical tape can block harmful, discoloring UV rays. Contact us for a sample or for the availability of a coupon code.

A wound doesn’t have to be the end of summer. With proper wound care, you can make this summer your best one yet.