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Light bandaging can help wound healing by providing protection, support and warmth and preventing the wound from drying out too much. In order to heal, some wounds may require the area around the wound to be immobilised, which may involve bandaging plus the use of splints or casts. This approach is sometimes used in areas prone to the development of excessive "proud flesh" (proud flesh is part of the normal wound healing response in horses, but can interfere with healing if there is too much of it). 

What type of wound dressing?

Wound dressings and bandages used for humans are commonly used on animals. There are many new and innovative types of dressings available as sheets or gauze, powders, pastes, gels and spray gels. They often contain substances called colloids and hydrogels that can form a framework that helps the wound to heal. Colloid dressings stay in place for several days to protect the wound, reduce contamination and absorb fluids and discharges. Hydrogels (as the name suggests) add moisture to the area, which can be important for some types of wounds. There are also a number of other products derived from aloe vera or kelp, and a resurgence of “old” remedies like medicated honey. As always, ask your vet for advice about suitable dressings for your horse.

What do I do next?

Every wound is different, but generally, a non-stick sterile dressing should be applied over the wound. A sterile bandage is applied over the top of the dressing to hold it in place and provide further protection. Make sure you don't apply the bandage too tightly, as this may interfere with blood flow to the area. Bandages should be checked at least daily. Your vet will let you know how often to change the dressings and bandages.

Other things to know

You can ask your vet for advice on how to bandage different types of wounds. Some wounds are harder to bandage than others, so always ask your vet if you have any problems. Wounds in some areas can be particularly challenging to bandage (e.g. head wounds or wounds on the leg above the knee or the hock). Other wounds may require the area to be immobilised so that healing can occur.