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Understanding Different Types Of Wound Drainage

Understanding Different Types Of Wound Drainage
Shweta Chaubey

Nearly all wounds produce an amount of exudate, also known in layman’s terms as ‘pus’. This is the fluid that leaks out from blood vessels and resembles blood plasma. The rate of fluid leaked from the capillaries into the tissue depends on the permeability and the pressure across the capillary walls. However, the actual amount depends on the wound type. As the wound heals, exudate production reduces gradually.

Management of Exudate

The management of exudate holds an integral position in wound care. When properly managed, healing time chance of infection, and frequent dressing changes are all reduced and quality of life is improved.

Indicators of poorly managed exudate

  • Discolorations of the wound bed
  • Excoriations of wound skin
  • Pain on or around the wound site
  • Delayed Healing
  • Malodor

Types of Wound Drainages

Local wound management involves using negative pressure wound therapy products and appropriate dressings. Treatment depends on the type of exudate. There are five major types of wound exudates -

  1. Serous: clear, thin, and watery drainage, seen during the inflammatory stage of wound healing. Although a little exudate of this type is normal, excessive drainage may require effective management.
  2. Sanguineous: the fresh bleeding that accords in the case of deep partial-thickness wounds.
  3. Serosanguineous: a pale red or pink color owing to the mix of red blood cells and serum. Serosanguineous exudate is the most prevalent type of exudate experienced by patients. The thin and watery drainage is the fluids leaving the body while the wound heals.
  4. Serosanguineous: a yellow to tan-colored fluid often spotted when the wound is colonized. It indicates the treatment changes that must be made for wound healing.
  5. Purulent: the wound bed requires immediate wound infection treatment. Purulent drainage is not normal in a healthy wound. Therefore, professional medical attention at this stage is essential.

Different Types of Wound Drainage Dressings 

Your physician will analyze and assess the wound and may also look at the quantity of wound drainage. The higher the drainage, the higher the bioburden and there are different wound dressings available to aid in the management of various drainage levels.

1. High Wound Drainage

The wound dressing should absorb excessive exudate. For a wound that exhibits high exudate, the dressing used must keep the wound bed moist and humid. It must manage the exudate adequately without being changed often.

High wound drainage makes the skin around the wound prone to tearing. A silicone dressing adheres gently to the skin and prevents pain during removal. The thin, flexible dressing conforms, and contours for a comfortable and secure seal, minimizing peri-wound laceration reduces wound trauma and pain during dressing changes.

HPFY Recommends

Molnlycke Mepilex Border Sacrum Self-Adherent Silicone Foam Dressing

Absorbs moderate to high exudate with a moisture-proof, bacteria-proof film backing for increased strength and flexibility. Mepilex foam dressing forms a seal around the wound to prevent leakage. Subsequently, the Safetac technology minimizes the risk of laceration and offers a moist wound-healing environment.

Molnlycke Mepilex Border Sacrum Self Adherent Silicone Foam Dressing



2. Medium Wound Drainage

Draws fluid into air spaces via capillary action and have a hydrophilic contact layer that encourages fluid to pass through the bandage away from the wound bed. Pseudo-foams are hydroactive dressings that draw the fluid into the dressing; as the fluid is absorbed, the dressing physically expands. The fluid is then held within the foam structure. The backing of the foam dressings is designed to allow the evaporation of small amounts of fluid, enhancing the dressing total fluid capacity handling.

HPFY Recommends

Medline Optifoam Gentle Sacrum Silicone Faced Foam and Border Dressin

 A Liquitrap Core provides gentle adhesion while maintaining an ideal healing environment. Optifoam silicone dressing features a super absorbent liquitrap core that draws in heavy exudate, converts it into a gel, and locks it away. The low-profile design increases flexibility and comfort. Its five unique layers provide added protection for patients.

Medline Optifoam Gentle Sacrum Silicone Faced Foam and Border Dressing with Liquitrap Core



3. Low Wound Drainage

Wounds with little to no drainage do not need dressings with high absorbency. They are easier to manage than the other two types of wounds. Most importantly, a low drainage wound does not require dressings that offer high moisture. However, too dry wounds often lead to delays in the healing process.

HPFY Recommends

Covidien Xeroform Occlusive Petrolatum Gauze Dressing

Contains 3% bismuth tribromophenate in a petrolatum blend, providing bacterial protection. Designed to shield lightly effusive wounds and to stop bacterial growth keeping wound odor at bay. The dressing is non-adherent and does not stick to the wound which prevents trauma when removing. Additionally, it keeps the wound wet and sterile to promote rapid healing.

Covidien Xeroform Occlusive Petrolatum Gauze Dressing



Accurate assessment and treatment of underlying conditions and appropriate dressing selection are needed to promote successful wound healing. At HPFY, we have a carefully selected range of wound dressings designed for all your essential wound care needs.


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 Shweta Chaubey

Shweta Chaubey

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Shweta Chaubey, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. An advocate-turned-writer, her desire to create meaningful and positive content has brought her to HPFY and what better than writing ...

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