Alginate dressings are designed for use on draining wounds or wounds with excessive amounts of fluid. They should not be used on wounds that have very little drainage or they may dry them out, which slows the healing process. Although alginate dressings typically keep wounds moist for faster healing, they need to form a gel to do so. In some cases, this gel does not form, which increases the risk of having the dressing stick to the skin and cause irritation or damage.
Alginates can be used in a variety of wound situations. With sloughy wounds that also produce exudate, the alginate dressing provides a moist cover to prevent the wound from drying out and allowing the wound to heal more quickly. Common wound situations where alginate dressing can be applied are:
- Pressure ulcers;
- Diabetic foot ulcers;
- Cavity wounds;
- Venous leg ulcers;
- Post-operative wounds;
- Trauma wounds;
- Partial thickness burns.
Most of the time, alginate dressings can be left unchanged for 5 to 7 days unless exudate capacity is reached. With infected wounds, the wound bed should be inspected daily.
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- Highly absorbent and easy to apply and very tractable;
- Protecting the affected area from bacterial infections;
- Maintaining a moist environment that promotes quicker and more efficient healing.
- Use saline or wound cleanser to clean the wound area;
- Pat the wound dry;
- Place the alginate dressing on the wound;
- If required, place a secondary dressing on top the alginate to hold it in place and to absorb excess fluid;
- Inspect the dressing daily, examining the wound site daily if infected;
- Change the bandage once every 5 to 7 days or when exudate leaks from the edges or into the secondary bandage;
- When removing the alginate dressing, use saline to dampen it first and avoid damage to the the wound bed or granulation tissue;
- If the dressing sticks to the wound, use saline irrigation to rinse.
- Do not use alginate dressing on relatively dry wounds;
- Do not use when underlying structures such as bones, tendons or ligaments are exposed;
- Do not use on patients with sensitivity to calcium alginate or with other known allergic skin conditions.