Different Dressings for Different Wounds

We have all, at one time or another in our lives, suffered from a cut, wound, or some other form of boo-boo. Whether it’s a skinned knee or a cut finger or a skin ulcer, the use of a wound dressing can help expedite healing. Much like a carpenter uses the right tool for the right job, choosing the proper wound dressing for your injury is important. For instance, you would not choose a Band-Aid for a leg ulcer. You should always consult your physician if there is any question as to which wound dressing would be appropriate for you.

Wound Dressings

Adhesive Bandages for Smaller Wounds

Almost everybody has experienced the joy of cutting a finger or scraping a knee. Whether it’s your child falling off their bike or a kitchen mishap with a knife, these are minor injuries that do require appropriate dressings to avoid infection and facilitate proper healing. This type of small injury requires the use of an adhesive bandage. These can come in many different sizes and shapes. For instance, Medline Curad offers many different options such as kids, sensitive skin, and butterfly closure adhesive bandages. Many of these adhesive bandages are specifically designed for use on knuckles, fingertips, and other awkward joints so that they stay in place. Dynarex Flexible Fabric Adhesive Bandages are made of fabric that flexes and conforms to body contours for effective and comfortable protection.

Wound Care Dressings for Larger Wounds

While adhesive bandage strips are good for small cuts and scrapes, larger injuries require larger more sophisticated dressings. According to the website Worldwidewounds.com, the ability to create and maintain a moist wound environment is one of the many characteristics of an ideal wound dressing. Most modern dressings can be grouped into five different categories: alginates, films, foams, hydrocolloids, and hydrogels with the most popular being foams and hydrocolloids. Since these are two of the more popular dressings, below is a chart that compares foams to hydrocolloids from worldwide wounds.com. It gives a description, the key properties, composition, and uses of both types of wound dressing.

 Comparison of the Properties and Uses of Foams and Hydrocolloids
   Foam Dressings  Hydrocolloid Dressings
 Description  Absorptive, sponge-like polymer dressings (with or without   adhesive borders)  Dressings consisting of adhesive, carbohydrate-based wafers (most   have a waterproof backing)
 Composition   Polyurethane and other components  Microgranular suspensions of natural or synthetic polymers (such   as gelatin or pectin) in an adhesive matrix (such as polyisobutylene)
 Key   Properties
  1. Absorptive
  2. Provide a moist wound environment
  3. Promote autolytic debridement
  4. Provide cushioning effect against mechanical forces (shear and friction)
  5. Can be used in combination with topical agents
  1. Turn to gel as they absorb moisture
  2. Provide a moist wound environment
  3. Promote autolytic debridement
  4. Impermeable to oxygen, water and water vapour
 Uses  Primary or secondary dressings on wounds (flat or cavity)   with minimal to high exudate, where a non-adherent surface   is important.  Dressings for wounds with minimal to moderate exudate, including   necrotic and sloughy wounds. Sheets may also be used as   secondary dressings.

With these two styles of dressings, the options are plentiful. If foam dressings are what you and/or your physician decide is appropriate, there are many brands and products to choose from. 3M Tegaderm offers many different dressings in different shapes and sizes. Coloplast Biatain foam bandages come in both adhesive and non-adhesive versions containing silver cream. Another option is ConvaTec, which manufactures products such as Aquacel (adhesive and non-adhesive) gelling foam dressing and Versiva gelling foam dressings. Other product choices include Derma Hydracell, Flexzan, and Hartmann. If a hydrocolloid is your dressing of choice there are quite a few options to choose from. Many manufacturers that produce foam dressings also make hydrocolloid dressings. 3M Tegaderm Hydrocolloid dressing, ConvaTec Aquacel and Combiderm, and Derma Primacol offer many versions of hydrocolloid dressings.

Other Types of Wound Dressings

Even though foam and hydrocolloid dressings can be more popular, there are other choices for wound dressings. Other versions include alginates, hydrogels, and hydrofibers. Every type of dressing has advantages and disadvantages so it’s important to check with your doctor to see what will be appropriate for your wound. Here’s a comparison chart listing advantages and disadvantages:

 Dressings  Advantages  Disadvantages
 Low-adherence Dressing   Simple
 Minimal Absorbency
 Hydrocolloid Dressing  Absorbent
 Can be left for several days
 Aid autolysis
 Concerns about use for infected wounds
 May cause maceration
 Unpleasant odor
 Hydrogel Dressing  Absorbent
 Aid autolysis
 Donate liquid
 Concerns about use for infected wounds
 May cause maceration
 Foam Dressing  Thermal insulation
 Good absorbency
 Confirm to contours
 Can adhere to wound
 Occasional dermatitis with adhesive
 Alginate Dressing  Highly absorbent
 Useful in cavities

 May need wetting before removal

 Iodine Preparations   Antiseptic
 Moderately absorbent
 Iodine allergy
 Discolors wounds
 Avoid in case of thyroid disease or pregnancy

 Silver Impregnated Dressing 

 No proven advantage

Many manufacturers offer variations within their product line. For example, a company may offer a wound dressing in both adhesive and nonadhesive versions. They can also include dressings with or without silver cream so no matter what your wound dressing need is there is an option for you.