Autolytic Wound Debridement

What is autolytic wound debridement?

Autolytic wound debridement is a treatment to remove dead tissue from a wound. This helps the wound heal. A bandage (dressing) is used to help your body’s white blood cells remove damaged tissues from your wound without harming healthy tissue.

This allows your body to repair the wound by growing more healthy tissue.

How will my wound be treated?

The method and frequency your wound is treated depends on certain characteristics of your wound, such as the size and location. The method and frequency your wound is treated also depends on the type of dressing that is used. Generally, this is what may happen:

  • Your health care provider will clean (irrigate) your wound with a solution. This is usually done with a germ-free, saltwater (saline) solution. The solution will flush the wound to remove any debris, bacteria, or dead tissue.
  • Your health care provider will then select and apply the right dressing for your wound. Some dressings may have ingredients that kill bacteria.

You may need to repeat this process.

What are the risks and complications of autolytic wound debridement?

Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, problems may occur, including an allergic reaction to an ingredient in the dressing. Tell your health care provider about any allergies you have.

What steps do I need to take to care for my wound?


  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.

If you were prescribed an antibiotic medicine, take it or apply it as told by your health care provider. Do not stop taking or using the antibiotic even if your condition improves.

Wound care

  • Follow instructions from your health care provider about:
    • How to take care of your wound.
    • When and how you should change your dressing.
    • When you should remove your dressing. If your dressing is dry and stuck when you try to remove it, moisten or wet the dressing with saline or water so that it can be removed without harming your skin or wound tissue.
  • Check your wound every day for signs of infection. Watch for:
    • Redness or swelling.
    • More fluid, blood, or pus.
    • A bad smell.
    • Increased pain.

General instructions

  • Eat a healthy diet with lots of protein. Ask your health care provider to suggest the best diet for you.
  • Do notsmoke. Smoking makes it harder for your body to heal.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.
  • Ask your health care provider what activities are safe for you.

Do nottake baths, swim, or use a hot tub until your health care provider says you can.

When should I seek medical care?

Seek medical care if:

  • You develop a new medical condition, such as diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, or conditions that affect your defense (immune) system.
  • You have a fever.
  • Your pain medicine is not helping.
  • Your wound is red and swollen.
  • You have increased bleeding.
  • You have pus coming from your wound.
  • You have a bad smell coming from your wound.
  • Your wound is not getting better after 1–2 weeks of treatment.

Some changes in the color of your wound are normal as it heals. Talk to your health care provider if you have any concerns.


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