Treating Wounds with Absorbent Alginate Dressing

Ken Langworthy RVT

What is Alginate Dressing?

Absorbent Alginate dressing is typically used as a dressing for chronic to acute wounds. The alginate dressings work well as when they are put onto the wound they immediately begin forming a firm, moist gel also known as a hydrophilic gel which is both highly absorbent and adheres to the wound thoroughly.

These bandages are made out of seaweed fibers and are completely biodegradable, which makes them more environmentally friendly than many other bandages on the market today. Alginate dressings and their bandages can absorb up to 20x the bandage’s weight in secreted fluids or blood, making it one of the most durable and absorbent options for bandages on the market today. These bandages are also available in a variety of sizes from 3 x 4 3/4 inch bandages to much larger 6 x 10″ bandages, and at many varying sizes in between.

How To Dress The Wound With Alginate Dressings:

To dress a wound with the alginate dressing, you begin by drying the skin around the wound and then placing the bandage directly over the wound. The alginate will start forming a gel over the cut, which makes removing the dressing later virtually painless as the gel protects the bandage from sticking to the wound. Once the bandage is removed, the alginate gel can be removed with a saline rinse to avoid making bandage changes painful. Moreover, these alginate bandages can be used on any cut even if it is slowly secreting fluids. The alginate gel can absorb a lot of secretion and can keep the wound from wetting the bandage which can make the bandages fall off before it’s time for them to be changed.

Alginate dressings are also useful for wounds that are secreting bodily fluids as it can absorb that body fluid. The gels will not grow into the skin as it grows back, so there is no risk of infection, and the risk of infection is minimized as the gel essentially makes a “shield” around the wound.

What Types of Wounds Can Alginate Dressings Heal?

Alginate dressings usually do best on wounds that are actively giving out bodily secretions as the gel forms a “shield” around the sore to help soak up the secretions while keeping all other foreign bodies out of the cut, which lowers risks of infections. Alginate is also useful for wounds that are bleeding profusely as there are calcium fibers in the bandages which can break down and help slow the bleeding of a sore is bleeding heavily. Alginate dressings have long been used to dress wounds including fissures, hyper granulating tissue, interdigital maceration, heloma mole, and other lesions. Alginate dressings have also successfully been used to cover wounds on the parts of the body that are utilized the most such as on the feet. When it comes to healing venous ulcers, more studies are needed to see if Alginate dressings are effective.

If you do have venous ulcers or varicose veins, take a look at our Vein Score tool! After entering your symptoms and zip code, you will receive and vein score and a list of local physicians.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Susanne Woloson on 5-01-2020.

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