Supplies needed

  • Medium-size bowl
  • Sterile water or sterile Saline solution
  • Soap (gel) or Betadine or Hibiclens
  • Gauze – some to be kept dry, some to be moistened
  • Vaseline gauze or other non-adherent dressing (Xeroform, etc.)
  • Coban or ACE wrap


  1. Fill a medium-sized bowl (or a disposable cup for a fingertip) with lukewarm water of enough volume to cover the desired body part.
  2. Add either 3 pumps of non-fragrance gel soap OR 2 tablespoons of betadine or Hibiclens solution OR Epson salt. Do not use hydrogen peroxide!
  3. Gently unwrap the previous dressing. If the fingertip wound has clear or white gauze over the nail area, take care not to remove it. If necessary, take a dry sponge to gently rub off any debris near the wound.
  4. Place your affected finger(s) or hand in the water bath. For finger wounds, gently open and close your fingers as best as you can comfortably achieve.
  5. After a 10-15 minute soak, remove your fingers and hand from the water and gently rinse off with sterile water or saline solution. Pat dry with a clean towel.
  6. Depending upon your instructions, now place either a non-adherent dressing or a wet-to-dry dressing over the wound.
    1. Prepare at wet-to-dry gauze dressing by lightly pouring saline solution onto a clean, dry sponge (2”x2” or 4”x4”).
    2. Gently squeeze the excess moisture out of sponge, then place it over the non- adherent dressing.
  7. Wrap an ACE wrap or Coban wrap over the dressing. Be sure not to apply too tightly, especially the Coban wrap. It may be necessary to continue the wrap from the finger up to or above the wrist to better keep the dressing in place.