A tunnel wound is a secondary wound that develops alongside a primary wound and is typically caused by infection or pressure. This type of wound extends into tissue layers to form a hole or curved tunnel in your skin, which can be unsettling to see! If you have a tunnel wound, keep it clean and change the dressing on a regular basis. Make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible so that they can examine the wound, determine the cause, and prescribe the appropriate treatment. Tunnel wounds can take a long time to heal, so it’s critical to collaborate with your doctor to ensure everything goes as planned.
Method 1 Dressing a Tunnel Wound
1. Wash your hands for 15-30 seconds with a mild cleanser. To remove bacteria from your hands, wet your hands with warm water, add cleanser, and lather for at least 15 seconds. Make sure to get under your nails and between your fingers! Rinse the cleanser away completely and pat your hands dry with a clean towel.
Bacterial infection is one of the leading causes of tunnelling, so it is critical that you wash your hands and work in a sterile environment.
If you want to be certain that you’ve killed all of the bacteria on your hands, use an alcohol-based cleanser.
2. Remove the old dressing with care and place it in a plastic bag. Remove the medical tape that is holding the gauze in place and carefully pull away the gauze. If the gauze becomes stuck to the wound, gently dampen it with warm water and try again. To prevent the spread of bacteria, immediately place the old dressing in a plastic bag, seal it, and dispose of it.
After removing and discarding the old dressing, wash your hands again.
Your doctor will advise you on how frequently you should change the dressing on your wound. It may be necessary to repeat it every day or every 48-72 hours.
3. Using sterile gauze or a soft cloth, moisten it with saline or soap and water. Your doctor will instruct you on how to clean your wound. If you haven’t already seen your doctor, any mild cleanser will suffice. Make a solution of warm water and a few drops of mild soap, then soak the gauze or cloth in it and wring out the excess.
When cleaning and dressing a tunnel wound, always follow your doctor’s instructions.
4. To clean the wound, gently dab the gauze or cloth around it. Wipe any blood, pus, or drainage from the wound and surrounding area. Because tunnel wounds can be painful, go slowly and dab gently. When changing the dressing on a deep tunnel wound, your doctor will instruct you to irrigate it with saline solution.
Irrigate the wound only if instructed to do so by your doctor. 4–6 inches (10–15 cm) away from the wound, place the saline irrigation tip. To release a steady stream of saline, squeeze the bottle or plunger. Sweep the tip from one end of the wound to the other and back again to remove loose tissue, debris, and bacteria. Use at least 100 mL of saline fluid.
Unless your doctor specifically instructs you, never apply any type of lotion, cream, or herbal remedy to or around the wound.
5. Apply a new dressing per your doctor’s instructions. The type of dressing you use is determined by the size, location, and amount of drainage from the wound. Your doctor will tell you what type of dressing to use and how to apply it correctly. If you haven’t already seen your doctor, cover the wound with anti-microbial gauze for the time being and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
Some tunnel wounds require gauze packing to promote healing. Your doctor will instruct you on how to pack your wound and where to obtain packing supplies.
If you must pack your wound, use sterile gauze that has been soaked in sterile solution or pre-moistened sterile gauze. Push the gauze gently into the wound to fill the empty space inside the tunnel. Then, wrap dry gauze around the entire wound.
6. To promote healing, keep your wound covered at all times. It is critical to keep your tunnel wound free of bacteria, so cover it with gauze or another type of dressing as directed by your doctor. Change the dressing as soon as possible to reduce the amount of time the wound is exposed, and only remove the gauze and packing to change the dressing.
Method 2 Seeking Medical Treatment
1. If you develop a tunnel wound, see your doctor right away. A tunnel wound is easily identified by its “sink-hole” appearance near a primary wound. The “tunnel” appears when the infection eats through the top layers of skin and forms a curved or S-shaped hole. Tunnel wounds are serious and necessitate medical attention, so see your doctor as soon as possible.
Tunnel wounds are notoriously difficult to treat, taking weeks or months to heal completely. You should not try to treat a tunnel wound on your own.
2. Inform your doctor about your medical history as well as any specifics about your wound. Explain to your doctor how you acquired the primary wound, when the tunnelling began, what dressings you’ve been using, all of your current medications, and how much pain you’re experiencing. Use as much detail as you can. If you have any medical conditions, such as diabetes or anaemia, it is critical that you inform your doctor.
Conditions such as diabetes, for example, can impede wound healing. Without this information, your doctor will be unable to treat your wound properly.
3. Allow the doctor to irrigate the wound and make a diagnosis. The doctor will clean the wound with a saline solution and closely examine it for symptoms that will help them make a diagnosis. Tunneling caused by infection, for example, will be inflamed and will continuously ooze fluid. Measuring the width and depth of the wound allows the doctor to fully assess the severity of the tunnelling. To complete the evaluation, your doctor may need to order a CT scan or an MRI. Then, they’ll figure out what’s causing the tunnelling and devise a personalised treatment plan for you.
Infection, improper dressing, diabetes, and long-term antibiotic use are all common causes of tunnelling. The type of treatment required is determined by the cause of the tunnelling.
If your doctor suspects an infection, he or she may perform a swab test to determine the type of bacteria present. They can then prescribe the most effective antibiotic for that specific type of bacteria. To avoid picking up other bacteria on the surface of your skin, they’ll need to swab the inside of the wound.
Blood testing is common, especially if you have diabetes or your doctor suspects you may have it. X-rays and ultrasounds can be useful in diagnosing non-healing wounds, especially in diabetics or people with chronic bone issues.
Aside from irrigating the wound, the doctor may choose to debride it (remove any damaged tissue or foreign materials) with a scalpel or other surgical tools.
While this may sound frightening, don’t worry—they’ll give you anaesthesia to make the procedure as painless as possible.
4. See how the doctor dresses the wound so you can do it yourself. The type of dressing used by your doctor is determined by the size, location, and cause of the wound. Before applying a covering to protect the wound, it is customary to pack the “tunnel” with sterile gauze to fill the empty space and absorb fluid. Depending on the situation, your doctor may use a different type of dressing, such as a hydrogel, foam, collagen, iodine-based, or hydrocolloid dressing.
Take note of how your doctor dresses the wound and ask any questions you may have, as you will need to apply fresh dressings at home.
Use the type of dressing that your doctor recommends, and change it when your doctor instructs you to. A new dressing may be required daily or every 48-72 hours.
Depending on how quickly the wound heals, you may need to pack a tunnel wound for a few days or even a few weeks. Depending on how quickly and well the wound heals, you may need to keep it covered for 1-6 weeks, or even longer.
5. Follow your doctor’s treatment and follow-up instructions. Avoid putting undue pressure or weight on the injured area while it heals. Clean the wound and apply a new dressing every 24-72 hours, or as directed by your doctor. Make sure to take any antibiotics or other medications exactly as prescribed! As the wound heals, it must be monitored on a regular basis by your doctor, so be sure to inquire about follow-up appointments and, if possible, schedule them.
A tunnel wound must be measured and monitored on a weekly basis to ensure that it closes and heals properly, so don’t skip your check-ups!
If your tunnelling is caused by an infection, your doctor may prescribe a strong oral antibiotic such as penicillin or amoxicillin.
Antibiotics applied topically may be administered. Apply these medications according to your doctor’s instructions.
Prescription pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications are frequently given to patients to help them manage pain and swelling.
6. Manage any underlying conditions that may be impeding healing. If you have an underlying condition, such as diabetes, that affects how well your wounds heal, work with your doctor to keep it under control. This will aid in the healing of your wound as quickly as possible.
If you have diabetes, take any prescribed medications and carefully monitor your diet to keep your blood sugar under control. Discuss with your doctor how to monitor your blood sugar and what to do if it becomes too high.
High stress levels, a poor diet, certain medications, obesity, and use of alcohol or tobacco are all factors that can slow wound healing. Consult your doctor about ways to improve your overall health in order to promote faster healing.
7. If your wound isn’t healing, talk to your doctor about surgical options. In some cases, surgery may be required to help a tunnel wound heal properly. If you’ve tried more conservative treatments and your wound isn’t healing, talk to your doctor about whether surgery might be a good option for you.
The surgeon may open the wound to thoroughly clean it or remove any damaged tissue or foreign objects that are preventing the wound from healing.
Always follow your surgeon’s special instructions about what to do before and after the operation. These instructions will assist you in avoiding complications and ensuring that your wound heals as quickly and safely as possible.
Creative Commons License