The Different Types of Wound Dressings and When To Use Them

Did you know that the first use of wound dressings can be traced back to the Egyptians? These dressings were used in open wounds and typically made of honey, lint, resin, and even meat. The mechanism of wound dressings have changed throughout centuries, but have always played an important role in treating and caring for wounds. 

Before you choose a wound dressing, learning what types of wound dressings are available is crucial. Once you’re aware of the different types, you can ask yourself these questions before choosing the right one for you:

  • What type of wound do I have?
  • How much drainage is there?
  • What does the tissue around the wound look like?

We’ve created a list of the eight main categories of wound dressings to help you understand how to choose the right wound dressing for you and how it can provide you the best care. 

  1. Gauze Dressings: Gauze dressings are the most commonly used dressings and used for a variety of wounds. They are typically dry woven or non-woven sponges and have varying levels of absorbency. Made of cotton, polyester or rayon, these dressings come in all shapes and sizes and can be purchased pre-cut or in bulk.
  2. Transparent Films: Transparent films have one side of adhesive coating to allow adherence to the skin. Due to this, it is best to use transparent films when you need to monitor and need visualization of the wound. For example, transparent films are often used on burns, ulcers, and IV sites. They are comfortable to wear and a good option if the dressing needs to be worn for a long time.
  3. Alginates: Alginates are natural dressings made from processed seaweed, and can absorb up to 20 times its weight. Due to its ability to be highly absorbent, it offers protection for wounds that have high amounts of drainage such as burns and ulcers. In addition, the interaction between the wound and dressing creates a gel-like substance that helps maintain a moist environment for wound healing.
  4. Hydrogels: Hydrogels are one of the most versatile dressings and recommended to use for wounds that are mostly dry. They have a special function where they provide moisture to the wound, allowing for a gentle application and removal. In addition, hydrogels have a soothing and cooling effect which makes it ideal for burns and infected wounds.
  5. Hydrocolloids: Hydrocolloid dressings have different absorption abilities depending on their thickness and material. When the dressing touches the skin tissue, it creates a gel that creates a moist healing environment and protects it from infection. It is recommended to use hydrocolloid dressings on burns and ulcers.
  6. Foams: Foam dressings have been described as the ideal wound dressing. They are highly absorbent and made of polymers, which are small cells that trap in moisture. They are ideal for wounds with partial to heavy discharge.
  7. Composite: Composites are typically multi-layer dressings and are quite versatile. They have a high absorptive layer which makes it a good option for partial and full thickness wounds. Composites are water-proof and a popular incontinence product.
  8. Interactive: Interactive dressings assist in the wound healing process. These come in various forms such as alcohol preps. Alcohol preps are a wound dressing product that creates a moist wound environment, but are also used to prevent infection and minimize bacteria.

Now that you’re aware of the eight dressing categories, you may be surprised as to how many different options are available in the market today. A versatile dressing option that you may want to consider is CATH DRESSING ® which is made of hydrophilic polyurethane foam. 

Hydrophilic polyurethane foam is known to have great absorbent, retention, and physical properties. First, the polyurethane layer provides a moist wound environment, providing an effective barrier against any infections and bacteria. In addition, the polyurethane layer is made of polymers, small cells that trap in moisture, and can absorb up to 20 mL of ooze. In addition, the foam is flexible, gentle on the skin, and comfortable.



Disclaimer: Please consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider for personalized medical advice. The contents of this website are intended for informational and educational purposes only and not to substitute professional medical advice.