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Alginate Dressing – Frequently Asked Questions

Alginate Dressing – Frequently Asked Questions
Anushree Kothari

Alginates have been around for quite some time. Experts suggest these are some of the most underused wound dressings. Perhaps that is because they are a little more complex than our usual wound dressings. Whatever the reason, the fact is alginate dressings are one of the best wound dressings available in the market.

Here are a few frequently asked questions about alginates to help you understand and use these dressings better.

What is an alginate dressing?

Alginate dressings are non-woven lightweight fabrics derived from seaweed. It is used to cover or fill a variety of wound areas including those colonized heavily with pathogenic bacteria. These absorbent seaweed dressings can absorb moderate to large amounts of drainage and can also control minor bleeding.

Alginate wound dressings help maintain a moist healing environment and promote the formation of granulation tissue. Their ability to mold themselves into the shape of the wound ensures proper drainage absorption. Apparently, an individual alginate dressing can absorb up to 20 times their own weight.

Does alginate dressing work as a primary dressing?

Alginate dressings usually work as primary dressings. Since these are non-adherent, absorbent dressings, alginates do not need a secondary dressing to hold them in place and work effectively as a primary wound dressing. The way in which the alginate dressing interacts with the sodium and calcium ions of the wound exudate is determined by its intrinsic properties. This further determines the absorbent and adsorbent characteristics of the dressing.

What are the main types of alginate dressings?

There are different types of alginate dressings based on the shape and contents of the dressing.

1. Based on the shape

Alginate wound dressings come in the form of sheets and ropes.

  • Sheet Dressing: The sheet dressings are easy to place on open ulcers, deep wounds, cavity wounds, and sinuses.
  • Rope Dressing: The calcium alginate rope dressings are used for packing narrow wounds. These dressings should not be used on dry or lightly exuding wounds because they can dry out the wound making the dressing removal difficult.

2. Based on the contents

Based on the contents of the alginate wound dressing, there are two types of dressings, namely, CMC dressing and silver alginate dressing.

  • Carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) Dressings: CMC dressings are highly absorptive and made from natural cellulose sources. They form a moist transparent gel absorbing the wound exudate and preventing the exudate from re-entering into the wound. CMC alginate dressings provide a moist healing environment and support autolytic debridement. Their fiber strength makes them appropriate for packing the sinus cavities loosely.
  • Silver Dressings: Some alginates have antimicrobial agents, like silver, incorporated into them for use on infected and heavily exuding wounds.

How to use calcium alginate dressing?

  • Clean the wound area using a normal saline solution.
  • Pat dry the area around the wound.
  • Gently put the alginate dressing over the wound surface.
  • Secure the alginate dressing with the secondary dressing to hold it in place.
  • The dressing should be changed every 1 to 3 days, or when the fluid starts coming out from the dressing edges.
  • Use saline solution to dampen the dressing before removing it. This will allow for pain-free removal.

How does it work?

In the calcium alginate dressings, calcium ions of the dressing interact with sodium ions of the wound exudate. The water-insoluble calcium alginate dressing fibers are converted into water-soluble sodium alginate. As a result, a gel is formed which entraps and deactivates the bacteria that are carried by wound exudate into the dressing. The gel formed can be lifted off while removing the dressing or rinsed away with sterile saline water.

Why choose alginate wound dressing?

  • Moderate to high absorbency
  • Low adherence allows for trauma-free removal
  • Hemostatic
  • Close conformity to the wound bed is provided by the sheet and rope options
  • Reduced requirement for dressing changes
  • Suitable for use on infected wounds
  • Protect the underlying structures and exposed tissue from dehydration during surgical procedures

When is calcium alginate wound dressing used?

  • Moderate to heavily draining wounds
  • Partial and full-thickness wounds
  • Pressure ulcers (Stages III and IV)
  • Diabetic foot ulcers (Level II)
  • Hemostasis on postoperative wounds
  • Tunnels or cavity wounds
  • Surgical incisions
  • Dermal wounds
  • Burn wounds
  • Donor sites
  • Infected wounds
  • Sinus tracts

When should you not use alginate wound dressing?

  • Dry eschar
  • Wounds with heavy bleeding
  • Surgical implantations
  • Third-degree burns

How often should you change calcium alginate dressing?

Alginate dressings should be changed every one to three days, or as directed by a healthcare provider. However, if there is excessive drainage or exudate, the dressing may need to be changed more frequently to prevent maceration and promote healing. On the other hand, if the wound is dry or has minimal drainage, the dressing can be left in place for a longer period of time.

What are some examples of alginate dressings?


Where to buy the best wound dressings online?

Health Products For You offers a wide array of superior quality wound dressings that keep wounds free from infection and promote quick healing. HPFY's range of wound care supplies has been proven to be effective and efficient by our customers from all across the globe.


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Anushree Kothari

Anushree Kothari

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Anushree Kothari, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2016. She has a deep interest in human physiology and wellness and possess a passion and talent for guiding others through ...

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