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Ortho: Trauma
What does "pin site care" mean?
External fixators are used temporarily if your extremity is too swollen to have your final surgery or if your fracture is too complicated to be fixed with plates and screws or a rod. The stainless steel pins are placed into the bone of your injured extremity. These pins also are exposed to the environment that you are in, exposed to dirt, dust and bacteria, which can lead to an infection if not properly cared for. Therefore it is very important to keep the external fixator clean.

* Wash around each pin site very carefully with soapy water.
* Use a Q-Tip to push the skin edges down around the pin; this will prevent the skin from growing around the pin over time.
* Rinse well with warm water.
* Dry well.
* Do NOT apply any other medication such as triple antibiotic ointment, Neosporin, etc. This does not help prevent an infection, but rather can often provide a good environment for bacteria to grow.
* Do NOT use rubbing alcohol or full strength hydrogen peroxide on your pin sites or incision area. These products will irritate the skin around the pin sites as well as the incision.

Watch for signs and symptoms of infection that include:

* Increased redness.
* Increased swelling.
* Increased pain.
* Drainage that is yellow or green.
* Temperature greater than 100.4 degrees.

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