Symbol: Insight into new medical dressings: Classification and characteristics

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The clinical application of a variety of new wound dressings can accelerate wound healing, reduce wound infection, improve the cure rate, shorten the course of the disease, and alleviate the suffering of patients.


To review the advantages and disadvantages of the traditional wound dressings and the new medical dressings, and then to outlook clinical applications and development of new medical dressings.


A computer-online search was performed in PubMed (2003-01/2006-08) and CNKI (2000-01/2006-08) databases to retrieve studies addressing types, characteristics, and clinical applications of medical dressings using the key words of medical dressing in English and Chinese, respectively.


New medical dressings are divided into film, hydrogel, alginate salt, foam, hydrocolloid, and medicinal dressings. Transparent film dressings are characterized as: easy to observe the wound, closely adhering to the wound surface, effectively inhibiting the wound exudate, being in favour of moist environment for wound healing, promoting necrotic tissue loss, reducing wound pain. The shortcoming is poor water absorption. Hydrogel dressings can be tightly bonded with uneven wounds to reduce bacteria, accelerate angiogenesis and promote epithelial cell growth. A hydrocolloid dressing is much thicker than film dressing, and the thickness of its adhesive layer determines the size of its absorptive capacity. Hydrocolloid dressings can absorb small-to-moderate amount of wound exudate, which are not applicable to the wound with great amount of exudates. Foam dressings, presenting with porosity, low surface tension, strong elasticity and plasticity, have strong capacity of exudate absorption and are almost completely transparent for oxygen and carbon dioxide, which can be used as drug carriers. Alginate dressings, which are relatively soft and easy to fold and apply, can form a soft gel-like semi-solid substance on the wound, providing a moist environment for wound healing and improving the regeneration ability and migration of epidermal cells. Medicinal dressings can protect the wound and relieve pain, bleeding and inflammation to promote the growth of granulation tissue and epithelial cells, thereby accelerating wound healing.

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