Excellent Healing of Pediatric Wounds Using Polymeric Membrane Dressings
Linda Benskin, RN, BSN, Ghana SRN, Church of Christ Mission Clinic, PO Box 137, Yendi, Northern Region, GHANA, West Africa
Treating wounds in an active pediatric population presents special challenges to clinicians. Pain relief, not just during dressing changes, but especially then, greatly enhances compliance. Dressings must conform well to the wound surface to prevent contamination during activity. The toxicity of substances used in cleansing or dressing the wound is a big concern when treating young children who more easily absorb chemicals through the skin and whose immature organs are less able to cope with them. Brisk healing is a major asset as well.
Flexible non-toxic polymeric membrane dressings often provide dramatic wound pain relief, presumably by inhibiting nociceptor activity at the wound site. Their non-adherent design makes dressing removal comfortable as well. They contain a built-in cleanser, so no manual wound cleansing is usually needed during dressing changes, allowing for less disruption of new growth at the wound bed and quick and easy dressing changes. In addition to the built-in cleanser, polymeric membrane dressings contain glycerol and a super-absorbent starch.
These components work together to draw fluid from the body into the wound bed, soothing and hydrating dry wounds. The excess wound fluid is taken up and locked in the dressing. So, polymeric membrane dressings are able to create an appropriately moist environment in both dry and moist wounds. Since the drug-free dressings concentrate the body’s natural healing nutrients in the wound bed by absorbing the watery portion of the wound fluid, they safely support very rapid wound healing.
After initial cleansing and/or debriding, polymeric membrane dressings were applied to exposed surfaces of wound; changed when saturated. Since polymeric membrane dressings usually eliminate the need for wound cleansing at dressing changes, interested parents or older siblings were able to dress the wounds, eliminating long walks to the clinic.
- Discuss a dressing that can maintain good contact in complex wounds in mobile, active patients.
- Consider the advantages of using polymeric membrane dressings in terms of passive continuous cleansing of the wound bed (which usually eliminates painful and time-consuming wound cleansing during dressing changes).
- Identify a dressing which promotes appropriate wound moisture conditions while inhibiting infection.
In our clinic in rural northern Ghana, our pediatric patients' wounds, many of which had been chronically infected, stayed clean and healed quickly with polymeric membrane dressings. We found that our pediatric patients frequently developed fungal and bacterial infections under conventional modern moist dressings, but we rarely encountered infections under polymeric membrane dressings. The dressings and changes were comfortable to the children, leading to good compliance.
Polymeric membrane dressings were an elegant solution to the challenges presented by pediatric patients at our clinic in West Africa and quickly became our dressing of choice for both acute and chronic pediatric wounds. With the current increase in CA-MRSA, the author feels this unique dressing will quickly gain prominence in developed countries as well.
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