Enhancing Hand Surgery Recovery: Strategies For Infection Prevention
If you have recently undergone hand surgery in Singapore or are scheduled for one in the near future, congratulations on taking steps towards a healthier, more functional hand. While hand surgery can be a life-changing procedure, it is also important to prioritise proper post-operative care to ensure a smooth and successful recovery.
One crucial aspect of recovery is preventing a hand infection which can significantly hinder your progress and prolong your healing time.
In this article, we will share valuable tips and practical advice that can help you safeguard your healing hand and minimise the risk of infection. These simple yet effective strategies promote optimal healing so you regain full strength and dexterity in your hand as soon as possible.
Keep reading to find out more.
Identifying those prone to hand infections
When it comes to post-surgical hand infections, it is crucial to recognise that certain individuals may be more susceptible than others. Understanding the risk factors will empower you to address the vulnerabilities and take proactive measures to minimise your chances of an infection after undergoing hand surgery.
- Older people
Age plays a role in the body’s natural healing process. As we grow older, our immune systems may not function as efficiently, making older individuals more prone to infections after hand surgery.
- Weakened immune systems
People with weakened immune systems, whether due to medical conditions or ongoing treatments like chemotherapy, are at a higher risk. An impaired immune system may struggle to fight off potential infections effectively.
- Medication use
Certain medications, such as corticosteroids or immunosuppressants, can compromise the immune system’s response. Individuals taking these medicines may experience reduced defence against pathogens, making them more vulnerable to hand infections.
Smoking poses numerous risks to overall health and it also affects the body’s ability to heal properly. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can impair blood flow, decrease oxygen levels, and weaken the immune system, making smokers more susceptible to infections.
- Obesity or underlying conditions
Obesity and underlying health conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease, can impair the body’s healing processes and compromise the immune system. These factors increase the likelihood of post-surgical infections, including those affecting the hand.
- Longer or specific types of surgeries
The duration and complexity of the type of hand surgery you undergo can impact the risk of infection. Longer surgeries increase the exposure time to potential pathogens, while certain types of surgeries may carry a higher inherent risk due to the nature of the intervention.
Learn more: Things To Expect After A Hand Surgery In Singapore
Essential tips to safeguard against infection after hand surgery
Undergoing hand surgery will open up a new chapter of healing and restoration, and protecting your hands from infection is paramount to a successful recovery.
- Avoid smoking
Smoking hampers the healing process and increases the likelihood of infection as nicotine restricts blood flow, impairing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the surgical site. Quitting smoking or abstaining from tobacco products significantly reduces the risk of a hand infection and accelerates healing.
- Keep dressings clean and dry
Proper wound care after hand surgery is crucial for preventing infections. Follow your surgeon’s instructions on changing dressings regularly, keeping the incision site clean and ensuring it remains dry. Avoid exposing the wound to moisture as this can create an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.
- Take prescribed medications diligently
Your hand surgeon may prescribe antibiotics or other medications to prevent or manage infections. Take these medications exactly as directed, completing the full course even if you start feeling better. This helps ensure the infection is fully eradicated and reduces the risk of antibiotic resistance.
- Maintain a healthy diet
A well-balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein is essential for healing and strengthening your immune system. Focus on incorporating fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains into your meals to provide the necessary nutrients to support your recovery and ward off potential infections.
- Do not apply creams or lotions on the surgical site
While moisturising the skin is important, avoid applying creams, lotions, or any other products directly on the surgical site unless specifically instructed by your surgeon. These substances can introduce unwanted bacteria or irritants, potentially leading to a hand infection.
Recognising the signs of a hand infection
After undergoing hand surgery, it is essential to stay vigilant and be aware of potential signs of infection. Early detection allows for timely intervention and treatment, minimising the impact on your recovery.
A persistent or worsening fever is often an indication that your body is fighting an infection. If you notice an unexplained fever, it is important to seek medical attention promptly.
- Redness, swelling, or pus at the surgical site
Monitor the surgical site for any changes in appearance. If you observe increasing redness, swelling, tenderness, or the presence of pus or discharge, it may indicate an infection. Report these symptoms to your hand surgeon for further evaluation.
- Nausea or vomiting
While nausea or vomiting can be caused by various factors, they sometimes accompany an infection. If you experience persistent or severe nausea, vomiting, or an overall unwell feeling, seek medical attention.
- Chest pain or difficulty breathing
In some cases, an infection after hand surgery can spread and cause systemic complications. If you experience chest pain, especially when accompanied by difficulty breathing or a rapid heartbeat, it may be a sign of a serious infection that requires immediate medical attention.
Path to successful hand surgery recovery
When it comes to preventing hand infections after surgery, knowledge and proactive measures are your greatest allies.
If you are ever in doubt, do not hesitate to reach out to our hand surgeon, Dr Jacqueline Tan. She is committed to providing exceptional care and guidance throughout your hand surgery recovery journey.
Contact us here.