Representing costs of over $20 billion annually in the US alone, advanced wound care is an essential aspect of the health care market. As wounds range in severity and duration, there are ever more comprehensive lines of products designed to treat and protect the affected area. Advanced wound care products are designed to fight off infection, aid in healing, and facilitate a healthy environment in the wound and the surrounding tissue.
What is a wound? – A wound can be defined as any type of injury to the skin including tears, burns, cuts, scrapes, or even surgical incisions and I.V. injection sites. Wounds vary in depth and severity lending more value to the expansive product offerings for advanced wound care. Wounds can result from daily activity, trauma, surgery, or even extended periods of pressure on a particular area of the body such as being restricted to a chair or bed.
How are wounds treated? – Effective treatment for wounds includes identification, cleansing, protection, and healing. All wounds are not created equal and require a variety of treatment options. Correct identification of the wound type is essential to selecting the proper treatment. Cleansing a wound of debris and bacteria that may lead to infection will help the wound to heal and prevent further damage that could be as serious as amputation or death. Protecting the wound through a combination of creams, ointments, gels, and bandages ensures a bacteria and debris free area to facilitate healing. Most importantly, wounds need time to heal, further validating the need for an assortment of effective products including those that work with the body’s natural mechanisms, and even pressure relief products to keep the wound from re-opening or tearing further.
When should I consider wound care products & supplies? – Advanced wound care, beyond what you may find in your household medicine cabinet is utilized for persistent and moderate to severe wounds. If the wound is difficult to clean or will not close, this is an indication to seek assistance. Other indicators that a wound may be at risk is if the surrounding tissue becomes discolored, warm to the touch, or sore. Wounds may also show signs of drainage as a result of your body’s natural reaction to healing. Moderate to severe drainage may indicate signs of excessive contamination or infection and should be monitored.
Wound Care Terminology
- Abrasion – any scrape to the external surface of the skin, usually referring to minor wounds such as a scratch or skinned knee.
- Bandage – any covering, cloth or plastic typically, used to cover the surface of a wound and part of the surrounding area to protect it from external contaminants.
- Binder – any type of bandage designed for a specific area of the body typically used to keep the body in a proper position to facilitate healing.
- Contusion – a wound that is the result of blunt force trauma.
- Debride – to remove necrotic tissue from the wound area, as these dead cells still attached to healthy tissue can delay healing and invite infection.
- Evisceration – the result of any wound where the soft tissue of the body is accessible through the opening such as removal of an internal growth.
- Exudate – fluid of the body that escapes through a wound that is a result of the normal healing process through inflammation or immuno-response.
- Fistula – any protrusion from one internal cavity through to another or to the surface of the skin.
- Friction – the force of two objects in contact with one another whereby movement affects both surfaces through transfer of energy.
- Granulated Tissue – the red colored tissue that forms inside of a wound to fill the space growing from the base of the wound to the surface.
- Hemorrhage – reference to any internal or external loss of blood from the circulatory system.
- Hemostasis – the process by which blood changes from liquid to solid state to cease loss from the circulatory system.
- Incision – a wound made as a result of a cutting instrument breaching the skin surface, surgical or otherwise, resulting from items such as knives and scalpels.
- Irrigation – the process of washing out a wound with water or medicated fluid to clear debris, necrotic tissue, and infection.
- Laceration – a type of wound whereby the skin is torn apart as from an accident or injury.
- Maceration – softening of the skin tissue as a result of prolonged exposure to moisture or fluids.
- Occlusive – closing off an area so as to prevent the transfer of debris, fluids, and air.
- Penetrating Wound – a wound through the skin and underlying tissue, as in a bullet or stabbing wound.
- Pressure Ulcer (ie. Decubitis ) – a lesion resulting from constant pressure on an area which is likely to be found on a chair or bed bound patient.
- Slough – dead skin tissue that can attract and support the growth of harmful bacteria that is yellowish in color and should be removed for adequate healing.
Advanced Wound Care Dressings
Gauze – commonly used in conjunction with other wound care treatment products, gauze comes in a variety of styles and thickness (ply). Gauze dressings are available woven and non-woven allowing varied absorption of exudate and creating a protective layer to inhibit the penetration of bacteria. Though inexpensive and readily available, gauze is not recommended for deep or highly exudating wounds and typically requires additional treatment products. Drawbacks to using gauze include shedding, frequent changes, and the tendency to adhere to the wound area.
Transparent Film – typically made of a polyurethane material, transparent film dressings create a semi-porous barrier over the wound area allowing oxygen and moisture to pass through to while minimizing exposure to bacteria. Films are typically transparent and do not need to be removed for wound examination. Films reduce friction to the wound surface and facilitate debridement of necrotic tissue. The challenges faced with using transparent film dressings include adhesion to the area around the wound and low absorption or transfer of moisture from draining wounds which can lead to skin maceration.
Foam Dressings – foam provides a thick and absorbent layer over the wound area accommodating absorption of exudate and creating a non-adherent protective layer over the wound surface. Available in various sizes and shapes, foam dressings can be used for pressure relief and high drainage wounds. Disadvantages to the use of foam dressings include an increased chance of infection from exudate accumulation and the likelihood of skin maceration.
Composites – more commonly manufactured and used in today’s healthcare settings are composite dressings that combine the characteristics of two or more types of dressings. These are designed to provide protective layering, high exudate absorption, and pressure relief to the wound surface. Using composite dressings can facilitate a more positive healing environment featuring debridement, easy application, and more comprehensive advanced wound care solutions.