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Evaluating dressing options for advanced wound care(AWC)

Aug 16,/2022

Wound-care products such as bandages and gauze—often combined with topical medications such as antibacterial ointments—are often sufficient for minor injuries like scrapes and cuts. In these cases, the goal is to keep the wound clean and dry. However, more complex wounds require advanced wound care (AWC) products, which are often provided under the direction of a healthcare professional. These types of wounds may include deep cuts and lacerations, stab wounds, severe blisters, necrosis, and infected wounds. Products used to treat these types of injuries are primarily designed to keep wounds hydrated, which has been shown to heal naturally faster than wounds that are allowed to dry out.

In addition to supporting moist wound healing, AWC products should help maintain a stable temperature around the wound, promote oxygen flow (breathability), and protect the wound from contamination and infection. AWC products should also be removed as gently as possible to prevent further pain and damage to the affected area.

There are thousands of advanced wound dressing options, so choosing the best one can be daunting. First, the clinician will assess the characteristics of the wound and wound bed to determine whether the wound is too dry or too wet; whether it is infected; whether it is excessively draining;  From there, understanding the different characteristics of each type of AWC dressing can help narrow the scope.

Advanced wound care dressings typically include hydrogels, hydrocolloids, films, foams, fabrics, sponges and alginates.

For example, hydrogel dressings are glycerin and water-based, which are highly breathable and cool to keep wounds moist, which is especially important for deep wounds and burns. These types of dressings provide excellent fluid handling, cushion the wound, and can be formulated for low trauma removal. Hydrogels are available in gauze, gel and sheet.

Alternatively, hydrocolloid dressings contain hydrophilic substances, such as gelatin, pectin, polysaccharides, or sodium carboxymethylcellulose, which form a gel mass to absorb fluids, dirt, and bacteria. They have low air permeability and no cooling properties, but have stronger adhesion than hydrogels and can provide a good barrier to bacteria and viruses. These types of dressings can be used to facilitate autolytic debridement—using the body’s own moisture and enzymes to liquefy dead tissue. Hydrocolloids are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, including wafers, pastes, powders, gels, sheets, and films.

Foam dressings are capable of containing large amounts of fluid oozing from injured tissue (exudate) and can be used as adhesive or non-adhesive multilayer cavity dressings. Most foam dressings use hydrophilic polyurethane and a hydrophobic backing to protect the injured area. Silicone-based foam dressings can also be used to protect the skin around the wound.

The clear film dressing adheres firmly to the skin around the wound to provide protection without sticking to the wound itself. These are very flexible and can be used in challenging anatomical areas and semi-occlusions. This allows the wound to “breathe” and to be visually monitored during removal without interfering with the healing process. Films have no absorbent properties and cannot handle exudates.

Fabrics and sponges are commonly used for different types of gauze. For example, these can be used to secure primary dressings (conforming gauze), clean wounds (gauze and drainage sponges), and even deliver medication to aid the healing process (impregnated gauze).

Alginate dressings—made from nonwoven fibers primarily derived from seaweed—are highly absorbent and can handle moderate to heavy exudates, but require a secondary dressing to hold them in place.

Chronic wounds can also be treated with negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT). NPWT procedures used to draw fluids or infections from chronic wounds, diabetic ulcers, burns or other serious injuries require a special curtain to be sealed over the wound so that a minor wound vacuum pump can be attached. NPWT curtains can be combined with antimicrobial foam or higher density materials.

When developing an AWC dressing, properties such as breathability, adhesion levels, absorption, cooling, repositionability, and sterilization should be considered. Choosing the right partner for product development is very important for AWC applications.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you develop custom advanced wound care solutions and bring them to market quickly.

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