effective wound care,  Nurse,  Products for Nurses

Wound Care Improves with Exudate Management

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ALLEVYN LIFE from Smith+Nephew. All opinions are 100% mine.

As a hospital nurse and then field nurse in home health care and hospice for years, wounds were always a big part of my daily patient care routine. As a nurse manager, I know this to be an ever-increasing part of the nurse’s role and function in a variety of health care settings.

Wound care has become very high tech and complex in growing attempts to improve quality of care and outcomes as well as the patient’s experience of care. The high cost of health care along with the aging population’s demand for more and better care continue to push for better supplies and equipment, in addition to treatments and techniques.

Managing exudate

One of the biggest challenges in wound care is managing the exudate. Exudate comes in four forms: serous, sanguineous, serosanguinous, and purulent. This is the body’s response to inflammation from injury whether accidental or planned. While exudate is necessary for healthy healing of wounds, too much can cause maceration and lead to infection and even sepsis. Drainage is uncomfortable for the patient and due to the sticky nature of blood and fluids, it can be very messy. Frequent dressing changes can be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and very costly for supplies as well as the nurse’s time.

If the exudate is managed and retained, the frequency of dressing changes can be extended even up to several days. This not only improves the cost-effectiveness and outcomes, but it also reduces the pain, inconvenience, and annoyance to the patient. In days past we would reinforce dressings to attempt to retain the exudate and extend the time between dressing changes. This becomes cumbersome and uncomfortable for the patient. It can also cause damage to the wound bed and slow healing. Layers upon layers of dressings also reduce the ability to visualize possible complications or to detect odor.

Foam Dressings

In my opinion, one of the best products on the market for years has been Smith+Nephew’s ALLEVYN LIFE Foam Dressing. Foam dressings have the ability to absorb and retain exudate better than other dressing products. They are soft and flexible and conform to the body better. The ALLEVYN LIFE Foam Dressing comes in a variety of sizes and shapes to fit and conform to the most difficult body parts to dress such as the coccyx or a bent knee or elbow. For specific information on the use and safety of ALLEVYN products, please refer to the Smith+Nephew website.

The “pink foam dressing” as it is casually known, works very well for all levels of exudative wound care involving wounds such as skin tears, bedsores, leg and foot ulcers, burns, and surgical wounds. ALLEVYN LIFE dressing is great for both exudate management and exudate retention including highly exudative wounds. It’s a silicone gel adhesive dressing with a foam layer and a lock away core made from super absorbent material. The silicone adhesion is gentle to fragile skin and allows for easy removal or repositioning. The breathable outer film layer provides protection from bacterial contamination and is showerproof. Keep in mind, while it is showerproof, the dressing should not be submerged in water.

Time to change indicator

The “pink one” also includes a change indicator that changes color as the exudate builds up in the lock away core. This indicates to the nurse when it’s time to change the dressing. This can be anywhere between 50% and 75% depending on the state of the wound and specific protocols. The dressing is designed to stay on up to 7 days (5 if used on the sacrum but can vary depending on the amount of exudate in the wound. Other factors such as infection may play into the protocols. Fewer dressing changes have the advantage of advanced healing, improved quality outcomes, better patient experience of care, and improved cost-effective care.