Years of research have shown that the closer the wound’s moisture level is to that of healthy skin, the better the chances that the wound will heal. The old notion of allowing the wound to air-dry or form a large scab is counter-productive to healing. In fact, some research indicates that a moist wound will heal twice as quickly as a dry wound.
The challenge is to get just the right level of moisture. If a wound secretes a lot of drainage, choosing a dressing that is absorptive will promote healing. Foam or alginate dressings are examples of absorptive dressings. If a wound bed is drier, rehydrating it is beneficial. Dressings that fall into this category are a hydrocolloid or hydrogel product. Your health care provider will help you choose the right product to keep your wound moist and help it heal faster.
Keeping a dressing in place for several days aids in the healing process because the wound is left undisturbed. This is important because it keeps the wound at body temperature and provides a moist environment. Both of these conditions are necessary to promote healing.
Frequent dressing changes cool the temperature of the wound by exposing it to air. The body must re-warm the area, which slows the healing process. Keeping the wound moist allows the skin cells to move easily across the wound surface, healing the wound.
Keeping the wound covered prevents bacteria from infecting the wound. Development of wound infection slows the healing process and may prevent wound closure. Dressings also protect the wound from further injury, and protect the sensitive surrounding skin from damage.
Many of the newer dressings can be left in place for 4-7 days. Follow the recommendations of your health care provider when it’s time to do a dressing change. Changing the dressing too frequently or leaving it in place too long can increase the length of time it takes your wound to heal.
The recommended frequency of changes should be taken into consideration when looking at the total cost of the product necessary to care for your wound. Even though the cost per dressing may be higher, the less frequent changes result in less total cost.