The presence of pathogenic bacteria on a body surface or wounds that are necrotic can sometimes become malodorous. There are some medical coverings such as those with hydrocolloids which can generate the unpleasant smell. This is due to the different chemicals contained in the dressing which get mixed with oozing from the wound.
An unpleasant smell originating from a wound does not pose any risk to a patient. However, it may be the sign of a specific number of bacteria living on the surface of the wound and other factors preventing a proper healing process.
Specialists recommend utilizing the following measures to evaluate the level of odor in a wound:
- Very strong foul smell: Smell can be detected from a distance of two to three meters from the patient, even with a complete medical covering.
- Strong foul smell: Smell can be detected from a distance of two to three meters from a patient without a medical covering.
- Moderate foul smell: Smell can be detected when standing very close to the patient with medical covering untouched.
- Slight foul smell: Smell can be detected when standing very close to the patient and without a medical covering.
- No foul smell: There is no unpleasant smell even without the medical covering.
According to studies, anaerobic bacteria can be a contributor to wound odor. Tissue degradation can also promote bad smell in chronic wounds including leg ulcers and diabetic ulcers.
Correctly following doctor’s instructions, cleaning the wound and changing the medical covering as directed will prevent foul smell emanating from the wound.
The main objective when providing a medical treatment to a wound with unpleasant smell is to control the subjacent infection or to remove the dead tissue that causes the foul smell. Generally, specialists prescribe antibiotics to treat wound infections, however, most of the times this is not enough. So, doctors can also prescribe metronidazole to treat the infection site more effectively since this medication can control both anaerobic bacteria and aerobic organisms.
If the main sources of foul odor cannot be eliminated, then there are certain medical coverings or dressings which can greatly control and diminish the unpleasant smell coming from the wound. Also, activated charcoal has been known to be very helpful in extenuating bad wound odor. To obtain better results, it is recommended to carefully clean and remove dead tissue from the wound prior to applying any medical covering.
If after adopting any of the suggestions mentioned above the unpleasant smell is still present, then opt for other products available in the market such as scented candles, coffee grains, air fresheners or essential oils.