Topic Progress:

Topic Two: Classification of Dressings

As a rule of thumb, dressing materials can be divided into two categories:

  • Traditional dressings
  • Advanced dressings and wound care products

Whereas most health care professionals are familiar with traditional dressing products such as gauze, bandages and basic dressings, the very term ‘advanced wound care’ can be a little off-putting in that it implies specialist new and advanced technology.

The actual meaning of the term ‘advanced wound care’ refers to dressings that promote a moist wound healing environment (see Module 2 for further information). Therefore the term can be used to describe products, such as hydrocolloids, that have been available in essentially the same form for over 30 years.

This is not to say that the field is not developing – far from it. The introduction in recent years of technologies such as polyhexamethylene biguanide (PHMB) antimicrobials and topical negative pressure wound therapy products have achieved outcomes that would have been inconceivable before, and a tremendous amount of research and development is still ongoing.

Although there is good evidence to show that moist wound healing gives better outcomes than traditional dressings, there is a marked lack of evidence to clearly show where one type of dressing should be used rather than another or to show whether the higher cost of newer technologies will give better outcomes, in any given clinical situations (Horkan, Stansfield & Miller, 2009; NICE, 2015).