Silver Safety: Important Terms to Know

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Antimicrobial Resistance: The process that occurs when bacteria, fungi, and parasites (microorganisms) change over time and no longer respond to antimicrobial medications. This resistance makes it more difficult to treat infections and increases the risk of spreading diseases that result in severe illness and death.

Antibiotic Resistant: Organisms that have the ability to alter themselves genetically so that antibiotics do not have an inhibitory or lethal effect on them, thus allowing continued proliferation.

Antiseptic: Any chemical agent preventing or inhibiting microorganism growth.

Antimicrobial: The property pertaining to any of several categories of agents that are intended to be toxic to pathogenic organisms, including antibacterial, antiprotozoals,antifungals, and antiparasitic.

Argyria: After effect of excessive exposure to medicinal silver, typically through injection or injection. Results in permanent skin discoloration.

Bacterial Resistance: The capacity of bacteria to withstand the effects of antibiotics that are meant to kill them. This term is commonly used interchangeably with antibiotic resistance.

Biofilm: A complex microbial community containing bacteria and fungi. The microorganisms synthesize and secrete a protective matrix that attaches the biofilm firmly to a living or non-living surface. The biofilm contributes to underlying wound infection, chronic inflammation, and delay in healing, and it is present in 80% to 90% of chronic wounds and 6% of acute wounds.

Cytotoxic: Any substance or process damaging or fatal to living cells.

Impregnated Dressing: Gauzes and non-woven sponges, ropes, and strips saturated with a solution, an emulsion, oil, or some other agent or compound. The agents most commonly used include saline, oil, zinc salts, petrolatum, xeroform, and scarlet red. Indications vary based on the compound. These dressings are non-adherent and require a secondary dressing. Always use according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Silver Nanoparticles: Nanoparticles that can be added to dressings. These particles are undetectable by the human eye. Silver is an effective bactericide that kills mircroorganisms.

Silver Nitrate: An inorganic cautery agent used to chemically remove hyper granulated tissue or wound epibole. It may also be used to cauterized bleeding wounds. Silver nitrate is available in stick format (caustic stick) or solution.

Silver Sulfadiazine: An antibacterial agent that is rapidly absorbed and quickly excreted.

Silver-Impregnated Dressing: A dressing impregnated with ionic silver, designed to provide a barrier to bacterial penetration and sustained release of silver into the wound bed.

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

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