Alginate Dressings are Best for Highly Exudating Wounds

Published: 17th May 2011
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Wound dressings and bandages are an essential part of first aid kits. There are many types of wound dressings available; some are more known and commonly used like duoderm and tegaderm, while others like alginate dressings may not be as popular. Alginate dressings have been in use for over five decades but these are not used as frequently as other modern dressings.

Alginate dressings are made from seaweed and are highly absorbent as well as biodegradable. Their main component is alginic acid. These are particularly suitable for use in extensively exudating wounds where high absorption is needed because these dressings can absorb up to 20 times their weight. It maintains a moist environment in the wound site which promotes healing. The fibers of the dressing that are left in the wound bed after the removal of the dressing can be easily rinsed out. It is an occlusive dressing which not only absorbs exudates while keeping the wound moist but also creates a barrier that prevents harmful microorganisms from entering the wound. When this dressing comes in contact with the wound, a chemical reaction takes place which causes the fibers of the dressing to expand and forms a gel.

It is suitable for full-thickness burns, surgical wounds, split-thickness graft donor sites, chronic ulcers etc. When highly exudating wounds are dressed with alginate dressing, it absorbs the exudates and forms a moist environment. However, it canít be used by itself because a secondary dressing will be needed to keep alginate in place. The moist environment does not let wound dry and promotes healing. It can be used in shallow wounds in the form of a sheet and ribbon or rope form is packed in cavity wounds. An important feature of this dressing is that it can be easily removed without any pain. Once the wound starts to epithelialize, it becomes difficult to remove most dressings but alginate dressing can be removed without any discomfort.

It is available in a number of brands which differ in performance to some extent due to the source of the seaweed and the methods of preparation. Understanding the differences between different types of dressings is very important for effective wound management. If inappropriate dressing is used, it can exacerbate the wound. For example, if an alginate dressing is used on relatively dry wound, it will further absorb the moisture and negatively affect the healing process. Not to mention the pain and suffering caused to the patient. The knowledge of wound healing process and the advantages and disadvantages of different types of dressings is essential for health professionals and very helpful for lay people.


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