Demystifying wound dressings
Selection of an appropriate dressing can be helped by considering the dressing in three layers
A wound can be defined as any disruption to the continuity of the skin, mucous membrane, or organ tissue. Wounds can be classified in a variety of ways including aetiology (traumatic, iatrogenic, burns), mode of injury (incision, laceration, abrasion, degloving), time since injury (acute or chronic), depth (box 1), bacterial contamination (box 2), and exudate level (box 3). Initial wound management involves identification of the underlying aetiology and removing devitalised tissue1 through washing, surgical excision, or the use of special dressings and topical ointments. Figure 1 shows an example of a wound before debridement with evident wound exudate. Figure 2 shows a different wound after debridement with a dry and healthy wound bed.
An appropriate dressing is selected to optimise local wound conditions. Ideal dressing characteristics are given in box 4,7 but unfortunately no single dressing is suitable for every wound. The aim is to provide a moist wound environment,