Benefits of Silicone Dressings in Wound Care
Improvements to wound care and recovery have led to new research and materials being used in dressings. Dressings in the past were rudimentary and required ongoing changes to keep the wound in question clean. Today, combined with a variety of additional features like antibacterial agents, debriding agents, and proteolytic activity, and pH balancers, wounds have a better ability to heal and recover properly without undue stress through the recovery process.
The dressing itself also matters. In recent years, silicone dressings have taken precedence in wound care due to their various benefits.
How Do Silicone Dressings Work?
Silicones are long-chain polymers that contain repeating chains of silicone, oxygen, and other elements. They have a hydrophobic soft silicone layer that is tacky to touch, preventing the dressing from sticking to the wound but still enabling it to adhere to the surrounding skin. This helps to minimise patient trauma during dressing changing.
Silicone dressings are used to assist wound healing for a wide range of conditions, including diabetic ulcers, skin grafts, blisters, skin abrasions, and skin tears. They can be used either as a wound contact layer with a secondary dressing or as a highly absorbent dressing for more exuding wounds. In fact, soft silicone dressings are suitable for almost all indications where it is necessary to prevent trauma to a wound and the surrounding skin and pain to the patient.
Although anyone can use silicone dressings, they are particularly suitable for patients:
- With fragile skin, including young children and the elderly.
- Those who experience pain at dressing changes.
- Those who need to protect at-risk periwound skin.
What Are the Different Types of Silicone Dressings?
Primary wound contact layers
These soft silicone wound dressings are not designed to be absorbent but to allow exudate to pass through into a secondary dressing. These are usually thin and consist of a flexible polyamide net that is non-adherent to the wound bed. This type of silicone dressing is useful for superficial wounds such as skin tears, skin abrasions, surgical wounds, and pressure sores.
Foam dressings with silicone adhesive
You can find many absorbent dressings that have a soft silicone wound contact layer. This layer forms a gentle seal between the dressing and the wound and makes sure that any fluid is absorbed by the dressing and does not escape to the surface of the skin.
Silicone gel sheets
Silicone gel sheets are thicker and do not need a secondary dressing. They should only be used on healed wounds to reduce or prevent scarring. It can be used for both hypertrophic and keloid scars and closed wounds as prophylaxis against both new and old scar development.
Benefits of Silicone Dressings in Wound Care
The patient and the wound itself both benefit from silicone dressings. We have compiled some of the best benefits below; keep reading to find out more.
Reduction in Pain During Redressing
Pain experienced during dressing change can cause trauma to the patient and can exacerbate wounds. In fact, according to the World Union of Wound Healing Societies, changing the dressing is one of the most difficult and painful parts of wound recovery. Traditional dressings tend to pull at the periwound skin, damaging the healing process and even resulting in longer recovery times.
Silicone dressings actively reduce pain and trauma of epidermal stripping during dressing changes as they are easily removed and do not interact chemically with the wound or affect the cells responsible for the healing process. Furthermore, soft silicone cannot enter the circulatory system as it is insoluble in wound exudate, and its molecules are too big to penetrate through cell membranes or pass through the skin into blood vessels. This means that it cannot produce any undesirable systemic effects in the body.
Silicone dressings have a long history of being used in instances where scar reduction was a priority. Silicone dressings promote a healthy environment for the wound to heal and prevent excess damage from occurring. Silicone sheets work specifically to reduce or, in certain situations, entirely prevent hypertrophic and keloid scarring.
Soft silicone dressings are ideal for those with sensitive or fragile skin. Children and the elderly alike are both well suited to the silicone dressing. Of course, the benefits are for everyone. If patients find that dressing changes cause pain and stress, silicone dressings are a great alternative. The same applies to wounds where protecting the periwound skin is paramount to recovery.
Silicone dressings can be worn for longer, meaning fewer dressing changes are required. They also pull less at the skin during dressing change and are overall more comfortable for the patient to wear during their full recovery period.
Silicone wound dressings are transparent, which means that wounds can be inspected with ease, both during application and during wear. This reduces the frequency of changes needed to the wound, resulting in less trauma for the patient and lower costs over the duration of treatment.
Other key benefits:
- Flexible and conform well to body contours.
- Low toxicity, so safe to use.
- Low thermal conductivity.
- Low chemical reactivity.
- Repels water and creates a watertight seal.
- Does not support microbial growth.
- High gas permeability.
- Adhesive to dry skin.
- Do not leave a residue upon removal.
How Do Silicone Dressings Provide These Benefits?
Traditional dressings use skin adhesive to secure them into position. Though the adhesives do not come into the wound itself, pulling on the surrounding skin can cause damage to the stratum corneum. On the other hand, Silicone dressings remove far less of the stratum corneum compared to other options.
Traditional dressings, especially gauze dressings, also tend to dry out, during which time they tend to adhere to the wound and periwound skin. Though removal in these instances is essential, removing such adhered dressings cause damage and result in serious pain. If soaking the dressing to remove it occurs, it is recommended that a new dressing type be considered immediately.
By choosing the right silicone dressing, the dressing will stay intact, be worn for longer, and improve patient comfort and recovery. It vastly improves the patient experience and is also ideal for more serious wounds, abrasions, and even burns.