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Wound Dressing Selection

Several factors influence your choice in selecting the appropriate wound dressing.  There are six things to consider.  First, what is the condition of the wound?  Is it sloughy, dry infected, have an odor, painful or malignant?  Second, what is the condition of the surrounding skin?  Is the skin either fragile or macerated?  Third, what is the focus of the treatment?  Will fight infection, relieve pain and odor, promote healing, and absorb exudate?  Fourth, what is the cause of the wound?  Fifth, where is the anatomical location of the wound?  It may make it difficult for the patient to dress.  Finally, there is the issue of who will pay for the wound dressings.    

Wound Types

  • Burns
  • Pressure Ulcers
  • Diabetic Foot Ulcers
  • Leg Ulers
  • Surgical Wounds

Wound Dressing Types

  • Foam Dressings are meant to wick fluid from the wound.  Wear time of a foam dressing can be from one to seven days depending on the level of exudate.  Some foam dressings are impregnated with silver and other antiseptics as well.
  • Aliginate Dressings can also handle large amounts of exudate.  Unline foams, alginates are bioresorbable and bind fluid to the outside of the fibers. Alginate dressings are made from brown seaweed or kelp and manufactured in sheets or ropes.  Calcium in the alginate releases into the wound triggering coagulation for hemostasis.  These dressings are often changed daily or a few times per week.
  • Hydrofiber Dressings contain carboxymethylcellulose with hydrophobic and hydrophyilic components allowing it tensile strength and the ability to lock in fluid.  They have moderate absorbency. 
  • Hydrogel Dressings are usually for dry wounds with the major component being water to keep the wound base moist.  They are changed daily or a few times per week.
  • Hydrocolloid Dressings are designed to have a wear time of one to seven days with an absorbency similar to hydrogels.  They contain a carboxymethylcellulose backing, water absorptive components and an adhesive.
  • Film Dressings come with adhesive backing and without adhesive backing.  They are not designed for fluid accumulation and are often used for local protection.