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12 Sep 2017

7 Types Of Wound Dressings & When To Use Each

7 Types Of Wound Dressings & When To Use Each

When it comes to wound healing, it is vital to ensure that healing is as fast and effective as possible, for this using the right dressing is crucial. The type of dressing used for dressing a wound should always depend on various factors, including the type of injury, the size, location, and severity.

At CLH, we have a range of different wound dressings on offer, each of which is ideal for treating different wounds. From hydrogel and hydrocolloid to alginate dressings, we have a wide range of options on offer.

To make the process of choosing the right wound dressing for the injury, that little bit easier, we have put together the guide below, detailing what each of the seven most commonly used wound dressings should be used for.

1. Hydrocolloid

Hydrocolloid dressings can be used on burns, wounds that are emitting liquid, necrotic wounds, pressure ulcers, and venous ulcers. These are non-breathable dressings that are self-adhesive and require no taping. The flexible material that they are made from makes them comfortable to wear and suitable for even the most sensitive of skin types.

How these dressings work is by creating moist conditions which help to heal certain wounds; the surface is coated with a substance which contains polysaccharides and other polymers which absorb water and form a gel, keeping the wound clean, protecting it from infection, and helping it to heal more quickly.

Hydrocolloid dressings are impermeable to bacteria, which is what makes them so effective at preventing infections. They are also long-lasting, biodegradable, and easy to apply.

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2. Hydrogel

Hydrogel can be used for a range of wounds that are leaking little or no fluid, and are painful or necrotic wounds, or are pressure ulcers or donor sites. Hydrogel can also be used for second-degree burns and infected wounds.

Hydrogel dressings are designed to maximise patient comfort and reduce pain while helping to heal wounds or burns and fight infection. The cooling gel in products like Burn Soothe are what makes them so effective at reducing pain and speeding up the healing process.

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3. Alginate

Alginate dressings are made to offer effective protection for wounds that have high amounts of drainage, and burns, venous ulcers, packing wounds, and higher state pressure ulcers. These dressings absorb excess liquid and create a gel that helps to heal the wound or burn more quickly. Containing sodium and seaweed fibres, these dressings are able to absorb high amounts of fluid, plus they are biodegradable after use.

These dressings require changing around every two days, sometimes more, due to the amount of liquid that they absorb and the nature of the wound. Changing them too often could cause too much dryness or could lead to bacteria penetrating the wound. These should only be used for wet wounds with high liquid drainage; else they can hinder healing by drying out wounds too quickly.

See Alginate Dressing Products

4. Collagen

Collagen dressings can be used for chronic wounds or stalled wounds, pressure sores, transplant sites, surgical wounds, ulcers, burns, or injuries with a large surface area. These dressings act as a scaffolding for new cells to grow and can be highly effective when it comes to healing.

Collagen dressings encourage the wound healing process in a range of ways; these include by helping to remove dead tissue, aiding the growth of new blood vessels, and helping to bring the wound edges together, effectively speeding up healing.

5. Foam

For wounds of varying degrees of severity, foam dressings can work incredibly well, as well as for injuries that exhibit odours. Foam dressings absorb exudates from the wound’s surface, creating an environment that promotes faster healing.

These dressings allow water vapour to enter, keeping the area moist, promoting faster healing, but prevent bacteria from entering the affected area. These dressings come in various sizes and shapes, as well as in a range of adhesive and non-adhesive options.

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6. Transparent

Transparent dressings are useful for when medical professionals or carers want to monitor wound healing, as these dressings cover the wound with a clear film. These make identifying potential complications much easier, such as by making infections easier to spot at an earlier time. For this reason, these kinds of dressings are often used on surgical incision sites, on burns and ulcers, and on IV sites.

These dressings are breathable but impermeable to bacteria, helping to keep the wound clean and dry, preventing infection and speeding up healing. They are also flexible, which makes them comfortable to wear.

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7. Cloth

Cloth dressings are the most commonly used dressings, often used to protect open wounds or areas of broken skin. They are suitable for minor injuries such as grazes, cuts or areas of delicate skin.

These dressings come in all shapes and sizes, from small coverings for fingers to larger ones for wounds across wider areas of the body. As well as pre-cut dressings, these also come in a roll option that is made to be cut to size.

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