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A dressing is an adjunct used by a person for application to a wound to promote healing and/or prevent further harm. A dressing is designed to be in direct contact with the wound, which makes it different from a bandage, which is primarily used to hold a dressing in place. Some organisations classify them as the same thing (for example, the British Pharmacopoeia) and the terms are used interchangeably by some people. Dressings are frequently used in first aid and nursing.

A dressing can have a number of purposes, depending on the type, severity and position of the wound, although all purposes are focused towards promoting recovery and preventing further harm from the wound. Key purposes of a dressing are:

 Stem bleeding Helps to seal the wound to expedite the clotting process

 Absorb exudate Soak up blood, plasma and other fluids exuded from the wound, containing it in one place

 Ease pain Some dressings may have a pain relieving effect, and others may have a placebo effect

 Debride the wound The removal of slough and foreign objects from the wound

 Protection from infection and mechanical damage, and

 Promote healing through granulation and epithelialization

Historically, a dressing was usually a piece of material, sometimes cloth, but the use of cobwebs, dung, leaves and honey have also been described. However, modern dressings  include gauzes (which may be impregnated with an agent designed to help sterility or to speed healing), films, gels, foams, hydrocolloids, alginates, hydrogels and polysaccharide pastes, granules and beads. Many gauze dressings have a layer of nonstick film over the absorbent gauze to prevent the wound from adhering to the dressing. Dressings can be impregnated with antiseptic chemicals, as in boracic lint or where medicinal Castor oil was used in the first surgical dressings

In the 1960s, George Winter published his controversial research on moist healing. Previously, the accepted wisdom was that to prevent infection of a wound, the wound should be kept as dry as possible. Winter demonstrated that wounds kept moist healed faster than those exposed to the air or covered with traditional dressings.

Various types of dressings can be used to accomplish different objectives including:

Controlling the moisture content, so that the wound stays moist or dry. An example of a moisture-rateining dressing is Aquacel, which is a "hydrofiber" that is indicated, for example, for partial-thickness burns.

Protecting the wound from infection,

Removing slough, and

Maintaining the optimum pH and temperature to encourage healing.

Occlusive dressings, made from substances impervious to moisture such as plastic or latex, can be used to increase the rate of absorption of certain topical medications into the skin.

(Wikipedia, Dressing, 6/27/2012)


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(RDC 6/5/2012)


Roger D. Corneliussen

Maro Polymer Links
Tel: 610 363 9920
Fax: 610 363 9921


Copyright 2012 by Roger D. Corneliussen.
No part of this transmission is to be duplicated in any manner or forwarded by electronic mail without the express written permission of Roger D. Corneliussen

* Date of latest addition; date of first entry is 6/27/2012.