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Risk Prevention > Research and Science > Showering does not pose an increased risk of infection for fresh surgical wounds

Showering does not pose an increased risk of infection for fresh surgical wounds

01.08.2006 Freshly stitched small wounds can get wet in the first two days without increased risk of wound infection. This is the conclusion of a clinical study in Australia.

Fresh small surgical wounds must not be kept dry.

Scientists from James Cook University, Queensland, Australia, determined the rate of wound infection within the first 30 days after a small skin excision on 857 patients (BMJ online, doi 10.1136/bmj.38800.628470.AE). 442 of the participants in the study were asked to keep their freshly stitched wounds covered and dry for 48 hours. 415 patients could remove their wound dressings within the first twelve hours and shower as usual. All patients were asked not to use antibiotics or antiseptics.
The small surgical wounds healed comparably well in the two groups. The Physicians diagnosed a wound infection in 74 patients (8.6%). There were no differences between the two groups: 8.4% of the patients who kept their wounds dry developed a wound infection in the first 30 days after the procedure, compared to 8.6% in the comparison group.

Keeping freshly stitched wounds dry does not seem necessary

The authors of the study concluded that “that wounds can get wet in the first 48 hours after a small skin excision, with no increase in wound infection risk.” They were however surprised by the very high rate of infection. One possible explanation could be the moist warm climate in Queensland. It promotes the formation of sweat under the wound dressing which in turn reduces protection against bacteria. It is therefore questionable whether the results of the study can also be applied to countries in which the climate is drier and cooler.