Foam Dressings: Benefits And Applications
Unlike traditional dressings, modern wound dressings play a more active role in the healing process. A deeper appreciation and understanding of wound healing physiology has led to the development of innovative wound care technologies. Due to the wide range of dressings available in the market, choosing the most appropriate wound dressing can be a difficult choice. Wound care specialists and podiatrists need to be aware of the different dressing types so that they can select the most appropriate wound dressing. Foam dressings are amongst the several types of wound dressing material currently available. They were first introduced in the 1970s, and are characterized by a high absorptive capacity.
Foam Dressings: An Overview
These dressings are composed of either polyurethane or silicone material. They generally have two layers: an inner hydrophilic layer that lies against the wound, and a hydrophobic outer layer that prevents leakage. Foam dressings can either be adhesive or non-adhesive. Non-adhesive foam dressings require the use of an additional secondary dressing to be secured in position. In general, thin foam dressings have an adhesive wound contact layer. Thick foam dressings, on the other hand, may or may not have an adhesive layer.
Foam dressings are available in various shapes, sizes, and thicknesses. Some of the available forms include wafers, rolls, and shapes that conform to different anatomical locations. They can also be used as cavity dressings. Foam dressings are permeable to water, and their hydrophilic nature makes them highly absorbent. Therefore, foam dressings are suitable for wounds with moderate to heavy exudate. Due to their excellent absorptive capacity, they can also be used as secondary dressings with alginate and collagen primary dressings.
Foam dressings are non-occlusive, and allow the loss of water vapors through the outer layer of the dressing. The rate of moisture vapor transmission varies according to the type of foam dressing. The rate of moisture transmission can be altered by covering the dressing with hosiery or support.
Benefits of Foam Dressings
Foam dressings were initially introduced as an alternative to hydrocolloid wound dressings. They are widely used by wound care specialists and podiatrists due to their numerous benefits for wound healing. Even though a single wound dressing does not contain all the characteristics of an ideal wound dressing, foam dressings closely comply with the ideal. Some of the benefits of foam dressings include:
- Easy removal: Foam dressings are one of the easiest wound dressings to remove, and also protect the peri-wound skin from external trauma. Patients also report less pain with the use of foam dressings.
- Moist wound healing: A moist wound microenvironment is a prerequisite for optimal wound healing. Foam dressings can optimize the moisture in the wound environment which stimulates wound healing.
- Protection from bacteria: Foam dressings protect the wound bed from bacterial infection and external contamination.
- Adaptable: Foam dressings are easily adaptable which makes them suitable for use in wounds at diverse anatomical locations. They can be cut according to the size of the wound. In addition, foam dressings can also be used for packing cavity wounds.
- Cost-effective: Foam dressings are economical and do not require frequent dressing changes. They can be kept in place for up to 3 to 7 days.
- Non-toxic: Another advantage of foam dressings is that they are non-toxic and are hypoallergenic.
- Highly absorptive: Foam dressings have a very good absorptive capacity which makes them an excellent choice for wounds with moderate to heavy exudate.
- Improved wound healing: A trial documenting the efficacy of film and foam dressings found better wound healing outcomes in patients using foam dressings.
Application of Foam Dressings
Foam dressings are generally indicated to be used in wounds with moderate to heavy exudate. Some of the common applications of foam dressings include:
- Partial and full-thickness wounds
- Skin tears
- Donor sites
- Compression wraps
- Surgical wounds
- Dermal wounds
- Granular or necrotic wounds
- Secondary dressings
- Infected wounds
Foam dressings should be avoided in wounds with dry eschar as they can cause the desiccation of the wound. Some other important considerations to be kept in mind while using foam dressings include:
- Not all foam dressings are suitable to be used in infected wounds. Therefore carefully check the package label before use.
- To avoid periwound skin maceration, skin protectants and wipes can be used.
- As traditional foam dressings may not come with an adhesive layer, they will need to be secured with tape.
- Due to the opaque nature of foam dressing, clinical monitoring and assessment of the wound bed can be challenging.
- Certain antiseptic agents can damage the foam wound dressing. Therefore, antiseptics should be used with caution.
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