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Iodine wound dressings are effective topical antiseptic and antimicrobial dressings which have been in use for wound care for over 170 years. Iodine, with its antimicrobial action and chemical properties, is found to effectively treat acute and chronic wounds as well as burn wounds protecting them against bacteria, myco bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses. Iodine preparations are generally used by doctors to prep a patient’s skin before surgery, and also as a skin cleanser and antiseptic. Iodine dressings for wounds promote healing by combining the antimicrobial effect of iodine with autolytic debridement, moisture balance and active therapies.

How iodine dressings work

Iodine dressings enhance wound healing because of their antimicrobial activities and de-sloughing property. Iodine in wound care is used in combination with another bonding molecule which makes iodine less toxic. This allows sustained release of the iodine over a period of time instead of high concentrations released in one application. Side effects, like pain, irritation and skin staining, can be avoided this way.

Features of iodine wound dressings

Iodine wound dressings are effective antiseptic agents which expedite healing, particularly in chronic and burn wounds. They have a dual function – of cleaning and preparing the wound bed as well as in managing wounds.

Iodine dressings for wound care are antimicrobial in nature and have de-sloughing properties. They have a high absorbency rate, are versatile in nature and biodegradable. Frequent dressing changes are needed and in wounds with heavy exudates, the dressing may have to be changed daily. With moderate exudate, dressing application may be 1 to 3 times a week. An indication of dressing change is once the dressing has lost its color which means the effect of the antiseptic has worn off. The color changes as iodine is released due to the tri-iodide ion and free molecular iodine.

When to use iodine dressings

Iodine dressings may be used on wounds such as:

  • Acute/traumatic wounds
  • Diabetic ulcers
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Surgical/post-operative wounds
  • Venous ulcers/foot/leg ulcers
  • Arterial ulcers
  • Superficial burn/first-degree burn

When not to use iodine dressings

Iodine dressings are not recommended for use on individuals with iodine hypersensitivity, renal impairment, thyroid disease and on pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Types of iodine dressings

Iodine wound dressings are available with varying features. These include absorbent iodine dressings, non-adherent iodine dressings, anti-microbial iodine dressings and foam iodine dressings. Smith & Nephew is among the top manufacturers of these types of dressings with popular wound care products like Iodoflex pads and Iodosorb gel.