How Wound Dressings Affect Wound Healing Times
Specific wound dressings used in treating wounds can impact or impair normal wound healing times.
Advances in the technology of wound dressings meant to accelerate wound healing times are supported by evidence that maintaining the right wound environment, whether dry or moist, optimizes the natural healing process. When improperly dressed, wounds of all severities may heal inappropriately, producing negative effects that include infection, blistering, and scarring that impede wound healing.
Why Wound Healing Times Are Impacted by Wound Dressing Types
Optimal wound dressings will protect surrounding healthy skin, support autolytic debridement, and absorb exudate. Unless wound dressings possess these characteristics, problematic wound healing is likely to occur that could lead to serious conditions such as necrosis and infection.
Recommended advanced wound dressing types include the following, which all have their own properties that impact wound healing times:
Offering colloidal particles such as cellulose, pectin, and gelatin that effectively maintain hydration of the wound, hydrocolloid dressings are primarily used on pressure ulcers, burns, wounds suffering from necrosis, or venous ulcers. This dressing type is also conducive to debriding wounds and for naturally extracting foreign bodies from wounds so that surgical intervention may be avoided.
A hydrogel dressing is primarily based in glycerin or water constituents and comes in gauze, gels, or sheets. Providing an ideally moist environment to facilitate wound healing, hydrogel dressings also eases pain by cooling the skin and hydrating desiccated tissue with rich amounts of water molecules.
Composed of fibers derived from brown seaweed, alginate dressings create moist environments for wounds by reacting to wound chemistry and forming a gel while protecting the wound. An absorptive, easily removable dressing, alginates enhance wound healing times for venous and advanced stage pressure ulcers and is useful when wound packing is necessary.
Collagen dressings encourage tissue regeneration, impede bacteria from entering the wound, absorb fluids, and maintain a moist environment to expedite wound healing times. Collagen dressings work well to heal chronic wounds, surgical wounds, ulcers, burns, and bed sores as collagen promotes development of fibroblast cells.
Additional Factors Affecting Normal Wound Healing Times
- Desiccation — Wounds that are kept moist typically heal with less complications and pain than desiccated, or dry, wounds. Dehydrated environments surrounding wounds cause rapid cell death which initiates the formation of scabs that impede wound healing. Wounds kept moist with moisture-retentive dressings improves migration of epidermal cells while encouraging epithelialization.
- Bacterial Infection — Wound infections are recognizable by a foul-smelling drainage seeping from an inflamed wound and, in more serious infections, the presence of fever in the individual suffering the wound.
- Necrosis — Dead tissue surrounding or covering the wound will delay wound healing times unless the tissue is debrided and thoroughly removed. Common necrotic tissue types include eschar (leathery, dry, and often black tissue) and slough (moist, stringy tissue).
- Pressure — Sustained, heavy pressure to wounds impedes blood flow to the wound and delays healing. Fresh, oxygenated blood is necessary for normal wound healing because it contains platelets and white blood cells that expedite healing times.
- Edema — Extreme swelling around the wound deprives the wound of an adequate blood supply and demands treatment for normal healing to occur.
Systemic factors such as age, weight, chronic disease, immune system suppression, and blood chemistry irregularity may also interfere with retaining normal wound healing times.
Wound Dressing Complements in Wound Healing
Medications such as povidone-iodine and saline are highly effective complements to wound dressings in maintaining normal wound healing times. As an antibacterial solution used in the early stages of wound healing, PVP-I promotes debridement while saline solutions may help normalize wound healing times by efficiently cleaning wounds, irrigating dry wounds, removing necrotic tissue and clearing away any dissolved polymer dressings that may remain in the wound.
Learn more about how the right wound dressings complement normal wound healing times from the Advanced Tissue Wound Product Poster.