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Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Wound Dressings: Making the Right Choice

Wound care professionals often use a variety of wound treatment strategies to speed tissue recovery ...

Wound care professionals often use a variety of wound treatment strategies to speed tissue recovery and optimize wound healing. A key strategy to achieve these goals is the use of wound dressings. While there are many benefits to using wound coverings during injury resolution, material selection is key to obtaining the desired clinical response.

What is a wound dressing?

Wound dressings are biological, chemical and physical materials applied to the wound site to aid in the healing process. Wound dressings can be used to limit tissue inflammation, prevent microbial overgrowth, prevent tissue infection, and control exudates at the wound site. In addition, some dressings contain materials that stimulate the reepithelialization phase of wound healing, allowing patients treated to recover more quickly.
Depending on the duration of the injury, the nature of the injury, the extent of tissue loss, and the presence of complex factors, wound care professionals will have to consider the best wound coverings for each individual case. Patients respond differently to wound dressings due to unique physiology, making it necessary for their care providers to perform wound care independently.

Wound Dressings

Wound dressing is essential for wound care

Wound dressings play a vital role in the management of wounds from acute to chronic. First, these materials act as a physical barrier between the external environment and the wound, preventing foreign body contamination or infection. In addition, some wound dressings contain antibiotics and antifungals that help prevent harmful infections at the site of injury.
In addition, wound dressings help regulate another key determinant of injury resolution: the level of wound exudate/moisture. Too little or too much exudate on the wound surface has been shown to slow wound healing while damaging the surrounding unaffected tissue (around the wound). The use of the most appropriate wound dressing can reduce the risk of moisture associated wound injury (MASD) in susceptible patients.

Type of wound dressing

Wound dressings can be classified according to their physical, chemical and biological properties. The most effective wound dressing materials are summarized below.
  • Gauze/cloth dressing
  • Transparent dressings
  • Collagen dressing
  • Foam dressings
  • Hydrogel dressing
  • Hydrocolloid dressing
  • Alginate dressing

Gauze/cloth dressing

This is probably the most common and readily available type of wound dressing material. This dressing material can be applied to almost any wound site to cover different tissue injuries, such as cuts, abrasions and bruises. The dressing material can also be used to apply firm pressure to the wound area and to absorb excess wound fluid.
Easy to use dressing
It can be used by anyone with little or no training in wound care
If not replaced regularly, it can become a source of infection
If dressings are changed too frequently, loss of granulation tissue may result
May cause periwound damage when used by inexperienced caregivers

Transparent dressings

The clear wound dressing consists of a polyurethane material that allows oxygen to flow freely around the wound site and also allows moisture/exudate from the site to evaporate. This helps maintain the right amount of moisture needed for optimal healing. Transparent wound dressings can effectively cover donor sites in tissue transplant patients as well as in patients with mild burns and early pressure ulcers.
Reduce friction around the wound area
It is helpful for autolysis debridement
Minimize bacterial contamination at the wound site
Do not apply to excessive exudate laceration wound
May adhere to the wound causing loss of healthy tissue and damage around the wound during removal

Collagen dressing

Collagen dressings are particularly beneficial for patients with chronic, slow-healing wounds because they provide an organic scaffold for wound tissue repair. Collagen dressings contain biomaterials that promote the recruitment and proliferation of new cells at the wound site.
Promotes rapid tissue repair by helping cell proliferation, new blood vessel growth, and removal of necrotic tissue
Expensive wound dressing options
Need expert application and follow up

Foam dressings

In patients with damaged wounds, foam dressings can eliminate cavities or pockets that may have formed as tissue destruction. They also provide non-occlusive wound care for patients with burns, chronic venous ulcers and skin grafts. Foam dressings can also be used to reduce painful wound odors and improve patients' quality of life.
Optimize patient comfort
Not sticky dressings
Can handle a lot of wound exudate
Additional dressings are often required to hold in place
If left too long, the wound may macerate
Does not apply to infected wounds

Hydrogel dressing

Hydrogel dressings can be used to cover painful, necrotic wounds with minimal exudation. They can also form effective wound coverings in patients with burns or infected wound sites.
Effectively treats soft wounds and provides soothing relief
Prevent wound site infection; Optimize wound healing
Do not apply to weeping wounds

Hydrocolloid dressing

These highly absorbable forms of wound dressings can be used to achieve exudate control and optimize wound healing in patients with necrotizing injuries and chronic ulcers. Hydrocolloidal dressings are made from organic materials (such as pectin or methylcellulose) that expand and absorb large amounts of water.
High absorbent dressing type
It is helpful for autolysis debridement
Minimize bacterial contamination at the wound site
Does not apply to infected wounds
May cause more severe tissue damage in areas of the body prone to more friction

Alginate dressing

Alginate represents dressings made from a particular form of brown seaweed. In the presence of wound moisture, these dressings form a hydrophilic gel that allows rapid absorption.
Very absorbent dressings
Autolytic wound debridement is encouraged
Don't depend on
Additional wound dressings are required to hold in place
Excessive moisture absorption may cause the wound to dry out

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