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 is a board certified gerontological nurse and advanced practice wound, ostomy, and continence nurse coordinator at The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. She has a passion for education, teaching, and our veterans. Holly has been practicing in WOC nursing for approximately six years. She has much experience with the long-term care population and chronic wounds as well as pressure injuries, diabetic ulcers, venous and arterial wounds, surgical wounds, radiation dermatitis, and wounds requiring advanced wound therapy for healing. Holly enjoys teaching new nurses about wound care and, most importantly, pressure injury prevention. She enjoys working with each patient to come up with an individualized plan of care based on their needs and overall medical situation. She values the importance of taking an interprofessional approach with wound care and prevention overall, and involves each member of the health care team as much as possible. She also values the significance of the support of leadership within her facility and the overall impact of great teamwork for positive outcomes.

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.

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