Comparing Alginate and Gelling Fiber Dressings

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By Holly Hovan MSN, APRN, CWOCN-AP

As wound care clinicians, we are aware that part of the process of consulting requires a comprehensive wound assessment, looking at wound characteristics, causative factors, and drainage. As I've previously mentioned, we've all heard the term, "a dry cell is a dead cell." However, not all wounds are dry.

We often have heavily exudating wounds for many different reasons. Though it is very important to identify the reason for the exudate, rule out and/or treat infection, and tailor a plan to meet the patient's needs, it is also important to treat the exudate. Wound exudate can be managed with many different modalities, both simple (like topical dressings) and advanced (like negative pressure wound therapy, or NPWT).

When managing exudates, commonly used dressing choices are alginates and gelling fiber dressings... However, I'm often asked: what really is the difference? In order to make a brief comparison of alginate dressings versus gelling fiber dressings, I've constructed a chart based on what I've learned at Cleveland Clinic's R.B. Turnbull, Jr., MD School of Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing (WOC), through my own practice and experience, and from the WOCN Society's Wound Management Core Curriculum.

alginates_vs._gelling_fiber_dressings.png

References:
Doughty, D. B. & McNichol L. L. WOCN Society Core Curriculum, Wound Management (2016). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.

About the Author
Holly Hovan is a WOC nurse at the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center in long-term care/geriatrics. She has been practicing as a WOC nurse since 2013. Ms. Hovan has a passion for education, our veteran population, and empowering others to learn and succeed.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.

Comments

Hello, I am a wound care nurse at my facility and In my recent training, we were taught to only change alginate dressing every 3 days or less with heavy exudate. My facility is working with a Physician whom specializes in wound care, I have noticed that he wants all dressing changes done daily, we use foam dressing and it is becoming costly. Just wondering why he might be wanting every one done daily. I know their is a difference and every wound and I really don't see the need in changing all of them daily as some I could see.

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