Specialty Wound Dressings


Many chronic wounds can be healed with conventional dressings such as gauze and tulle, but complex wounds may require specialty dressings, growth factors, or bio-engineered tissue products.

Types of Specialty Wound Dressings

  • Wound Absorbers: These extra-permeable dressings suppress exudate and protect wounds from environmental exposure.
  • Alginate Dressings: These highly absorbent, biodegradable dressings are composed of calcium alginate, which is found in seaweed. When in contact with wounds, the calcium in the dressing is exchanged with sodium from wound fluid, turning the dressing into a gel that maintains a moist wound environment.
  • Collagen or Silicone Dressings: This dressing acts as a wound contact layer. Coated with soft silicone, this type of dressing may be removed without causing trauma to the wound itself or surrounding skin.
  • Composite Dressings: Having multiple layers (usually 3), composite dressings may be used as primary or secondary dressings. The top layer allows gaseous exchange while protecting the wound from harmful contaminants in the air. The center layer serves to absorb exudate and the bottom layer prevents the wound from adhering to other material.
  • Compression Bandages: See Compression Therapy
  • Foam Bandages: This highly absorbent, semi-permeable dressing helps protect the surrounding skin from maceration (the softening and breaking down of skin resulting from prolonged exposure to moisture) and promotes healing.
  • Hydrocolloid Dressings: An occlusive (air- and water-tight) and adhesive wafer dressing containing gel-forming agents such as sodium carboxymethylcellulose (NaCMC) and gelatin.
  • Hydrogels: These polymer dressings create and maintain a moist wound environment, provide absorption, and have cleansing, desloughing, and debriding capacities for necrotic and fibrotic tissues.
  • Odor Absorbent Dressings: There are various odor absorbent dressings available for patients with malodorous wounds caused by necrosis, infection, or bacterial contamination. These may be used as a primary or secondary dressing.
  • Silver-Containing Dressings: These are widely used to assist with management of infected wounds. In sufficient concentration, the bioactive (something that can have an effect on living tissue) silver ion effectively destroys bacteria.
  • Sodium Chloride Dressings: These dressings absorb exudates, bacteria, and necrotic material.
  • Transparent Dressings: These semi-permeable, flexible, film dressings are made of transparent polyurethane and coated with an acrylic adhesive. They easily conform to the patient’s body and the transparency allows the wound to be easily monitored.