With more senior citizens comes a need for more wound care. Management of wounds is especially difficult for senior citizens because underlying medical conditions like diabetes can make healing slow, and falls that cause wounds can happen more often. Luckily, wound care manufacturing companies are keeping pace with the demand for their products, and health services companies and researchers are constantly making improvements in treatment techniques. Here is a list of six of the most promising new approaches to wound care.
Moisture Retentive Dressings
Doctors now realize that a moist environment is superior for wound care. Exposed wounds don’t heal as well or promote the growth of collagen as well as covered wounds that maintain the proper amount of moisture. Dressings for wounds once only protected them from abrasions and the introduction of harmful substances like dirt and germs, but doctors now concentrate much more closely on the moisture vapor transmission rate of a dressing. Standard gauze dressings are now being modified to allow the best ratio of protection and moisture transmission for the most kinds of wound care.
Foam dressings have one or more layers of polyurethane. This material is very absorbent and is extremely useful for wounds that are exuding a lot of fluids. Foam dressings are manufactured as small patches for deep wounds, or as larger pads and sheets for wounds that cover larger areas of the body. These dressings are sometimes laminated to other dressing materials and are often made using die cutting machines like those designed by BarilCorp.com. The resulting laminated material does not adhere and is held in place with conventional compression bandages. These dressings also offer a certain amount of cushioning, and in some instances might make it possible to avoid the use of an additional pressure relief device. Because foam laminates can be so absorbent, they can require more frequent dressing changes to avoid odors.
Hydrofibers are made from cellulose, the same base as paper products, but they’re manufactured in a sterile environment. Hydrofiber dressings are useful because the closely conform to the surface of the wound and the skin around it, and because they’re very absorbent. This absorbency doesn’t dry out the wound, however. It interacts with the moisture from the wound to form a gel that keeps the wound at the proper moisture level for healing while providing painless removal of damaged tissue from the wound. Hydrofiber dressings are especially useful for ulcers on the lower limbs, which makes them a favorite for wound care on patients suffering from diabetes, who often have ulcers and wounds on their legs.
Transparent Film Dressings
Transparent film dressings are thin, self-adhesive polyurethane membranes that come in many shapes and sizes. They do not allow water to enter the wound, but they do allow water vapor and air to pass through in both directions. They are impermeable enough to keep out dirt and debris as well as bacteria. These dressings are outstanding at allowing a wound to be inspected at any time without disturbing the dressing. Since they are so thin and flexible, they’re great for use on parts of the body that are difficult for other dressings to cover properly, like hands, or wounds at a joint. Transparent film dressings are best for wounds that don’t go all the way through the skin layers, and that aren’t weeping a lot of fluid. They’re very useful for covering grafts and are sometimes used to cover other kinds of dressings to allow constant monitoring and protection, especially from the water.
Hydrogels are made from glycerine or other water-based products, or sometimes from complex polymers. They can be used on their own, but they’re increasingly being impregnated into gauze, or added to sheet dressings of all kinds. If a wound is weeping heavily, hydrogels won’t be as effective as other, more absorbent dressings, because they already have very high water content. They’re used on wounds that require rehydration and can quickly reduce pain and irritation while providing a cooling effect on severe scrape wounds. Hydrogel dressings are very supple, and they will fill in spaces in a wound to give complete coverage. They’re not adhesive, so they need a secondary dressing to hold them in place and to protect them.
Silver Impregnated Dressings
Silver has been used as an antiseptic agent for generations, even before the exact nature of its beneficial properties was understood. While silver can have many desirable effects on the body, its form determines how useful it will ultimately be. Silver was once only available for medical uses as a salt, which limited its effectiveness somewhat. Medical chemistry is now being performed at the nanoparticle level, and silver nitrate can be broken down into micro fine particles that make it more soluble in liquids. This increases the release of ions to concentrations high enough to kill pathogenic organisms. That makes silver useful as an additive in dressings like gauze and foams. If the silver is delivered to the wound in the correct dosage and in the correct form, it’s capable of killing almost any kind of microbe, including MRSA.
Alginate dressings are made from soft, unwoven fibers. They’re impregnated with a form of alginic acid. This material is incredibly absorbent and is capable of wicking up 20-times its own weight in fluid. That makes alginate dressing useful for large, open wounds, and wounds that undermine the skin. Alginate dressings fit themselves into the shape of the wound easily. The fluids in the wound react with the alginates to produce a gelatinous substance. This keeps the wound at the proper moisture level and softens scar tissue naturally to encourage more effective healing of the wound, with less scarring. Alginates can leave some of their fibers behind in the wound, but they’re biodegradable.
Research and clinical observation is constantly improving the dressings used for every type of wound and injury and wound care manufacturing companies have kept pace by finding new and cost-effective ways to produce these new types of bandages. That gives doctors more options than ever when dealing with stubborn wounds, and increases the chances of a faster and more reliable recovery for patients, with less pain and discomfort.