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Alginate Dressings - Introduction | How it Works | How to Use | Types | Which Dressing to Buy

What is Alginate Dressing?

Alginate dressings also known as seaweed dressing for wounds can be used for heavily exuding wounds. These dressings are biodegradable in nature and provide a moist wound healing environment. They have sodium and calcium fibers which have water insoluble gelatinous properties that absorb large amounts of exudates without any discomfort or saturation. When the alginate dressing comes into contact with the exudate, it forms a soft, integral gel which conforms to the wound contours. These alginate dressings for wounds do not stick to the delicate healing tissues and are easy to remove.

Why Choose Seaweed Wound Dressings?

  • Calcium alginates are ideal for deep cavity wounds because the gel formed on coming into contact with the exudate conforms to the wound site.
  • These dressings are biodegradable and promote autolytic debridement.
  • Removal is easy with saline irrigation without causing any trauma to the wound or disturbing the healing granulation tissue.

How Do Alginate Dressings Work?

When initially applied on an open wound, alginate dressings are dry and become broader and more gel-like as they draw in fluids. This helps clear the wound, prevents the wound from becoming dry, and protects it from harmful bacteria, aiding in minimizing the risk of infection. During the wound healing process, these dressings also help encourage new skin growth by ensuring that the wound area stays moist. This facilitates natural debridement by enzymes, complementing the wound treatment offered in a clinical setting by wound care practitioners. Dead or damaged skin is removed by the debridement process, promoting a healthy wound environment that helps heal wounds. Alginate dressings can also assist with bleeding wounds. In these dressings, calcium helps regulate the flow of blood, which slows down bleeding.

How to Use an Alginate Dressing

Treating wounds with alginate dressings is an easy process if you follow the correct wound care procedure using following steps:
  1. Clean the wounded area with normal saline solution
  2. Pat dry the around the wound
  3. Place the alginate dressing around the wound
  4. Secure alginate dressing with a secondary dressing to hold it in place
  5. Frequency of changing the dressing should be every one to three days, or when fluid starts to seep out from edge of the dressing.
  6. While changing the alhinate dressing, use saline to dampen it, so damage of surrounding skin can be minimized.

When to use Alginate Dressings?

These Calcium alginate dressings are versatile in nature and have numerous applications. They work best on wet wounds, which produce a lot of exudate and sloughy wounds that have dead tissues. Alginate dressings are effective on:
  • Diabetic wounds
  • Wounds with moderate-to-heavily exudates
  • Shallow or cavity wounds
  • Full-thickness burns
  • Surgical wounds
  • Split-thickness graft donor sites
  • Mohs surgery defects
  • Refractory decubiti
They have hemostatic properties for which they are used on bleeding wounds.
These wound dressings should not be applied on heavily necrotic and dry wounds. Calcium alginate dressings require exudate to form a gel-like covering and initiate healing. If the wound is dry the dressing will stick to it and can be painful while removing.

What are the types of Alginate Dressings?

Calcium alginate wound dressings are available in different types such as ribbon dressing and flat, non-woven pads. You can choose from alginate dressings which are latex or latex-free and incorporated with silver, carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) or hydrocolloid such as Coloplast Biatain Alginate Dressing. Some wound dressings also comes with an antimicrobial agent to fight infection. Example - Derma Algicell Ag Alginate Dressing 
Alginate dressings with silver display effective antimicrobial action against bacteria and also release silver ions into the wound depending on the exudate amount which is present. There are many self-adhesive alginate dressings but some are non-adherent types also and will need a secondary dressing.

Which Alginate Dressing to Buy?

Selecting a dressing will depend on the status of the wound because there are different types of alginate dressings available.
Initially, the wound produces more exudate which gradually lessens as healing progresses. The wound keeps some amount of moisture needed for the healing process and the excessive moisture is absorbed by the dressing. But if healing is delayed and wound becomes chronic with excessive exudate then this could result in an infection. User can use super-absorbent alginate dressings which are useful under such circumstances.
For sloughy wounds with soft necrotic tissues, excess dead then high gelling Kaltostat, Tegaderm and Sorbalgon alginate dressings are the key.
The gel-like consistency is formed when the dressing absorbs exudate to provide a moist wound healing environment with easy removal. Wounds with a deep cavity require alginate dressings in the form of a rope or ribbon. The dressing is packed into the wound ensuring all areas are covered. Flat pads or sheets are used for wounds which are superficial and have heavy exudates, such as leg ulcers
All our alginate wound dressings are high quality and from leading manufacturers like Medline, 3M, Hollister, Smith & Nephew and ConvaTec. Top alginate dressing brands are featured here like Maxorb, Tegaderm and Biatain.

Research and Articles on Alginate Dressing