Types of wound dressings and when to use them​

Wound dressings

Wound dressings promote healing, prevent infection, and protect against further injury. Available in various forms, their primary function is to create a moist environment that fosters the growth of healthy cells, expediting the healing process.

Fast and effective wound healing relies on choosing the right dressing and hinges on factors like injury type, size, location, and severity.

Types of wound dressings and when to use them?

Common wound dressings types include:


Crafted from woven cotton, Gauze dressings come in diverse shapes and sizes, such as sponges and rolls. 

Gauze Sponges absorb excess fluids from wounds, while gauze rolls serve as versatile, cost-effective options for various dressing needs.

When to use a gauze wound dressing:

  • Infected wounds
  • Wounds need wrapping or additional packing.
  • Injuries requiring frequent dressing changes.
  • Draining injuries with excess discharge.

Transparent film

Transparent film wound dressings, made of thin polymer membranes with adhesive backing, serve a dual purpose. 

They enable healthcare professionals to visually monitor wounds while safeguarding against elements like liquid, water, and bacteria. 

Patients find the thin and flexible material comfortable on wounds, enhancing mobility.

When to use a transparent film wound dressing:

  • IV sites
  • Abrasions
  • Surgical incision sites
  • Lacerations
  • Second-degree burns
Wound dressings steps

Collagen dressings

Collagen dressings, derived from human or animal sources, contain the healing protein in the human body.

They come in forms like gels, powders, and sheets, offering a protective barrier and reducing inflammation. 

However, they may not be suitable for highly exudative wounds and could pose issues for individuals allergic to collagen or animal-derived products.

When to use collagen dressing:

  • Surgical wounds.
  • Wounds with granulation tissue.
  • Deep burn wounds.
  • Chronic wounds.
  • Acute wounds.


Hydrogel wound dressings are used for dry or slow-healing wounds, introducing intentional moisture to enhance the healing rate. 

Some formulations include cooling gel for added patient comfort. Versatile in treating various wound types and sizes, hydrogel dressings offer many applications.

When to use a hydrogel wound dressing:

  • Excessive dry wound areas.
  • Wounds with dead tissue.
  • Painful or necrotic wounds.


Crafted from polyurethane foam, foam foams are soft and gentle wound dressings.

They maintain moisture in the wound, safeguarding against harmful bacteria without sticking to the wound.

In adhesive or non-adhesive, foam dressings expedite healing through moisture retention.

When to use a foam wound dressing:

  • Pressure ulcers.
  • Diabetic ulcers.
  • Skin grafts.
  • Minor burns.
  • Surgical wounds.
  • Traumatic wounds.
  • Fistulas.

Silver dressings

Silver wound dressings utilise silver, a natural antimicrobial agent, to prevent and treat wound infections. 

Available in various forms like gels, foams, and films, they may cause adverse effects with prolonged use, including skin discolouration and impaired wound healing.

It’s crucial to use silver dressings under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

When to use Silver dressing:

  • Trauma wound.
  • Infected wounds.
  • Chronic wounds.
  • Surgical wounds.
  • Burn wounds.

Non-adherent dressings

Utilising materials like silicone or low-adherent fabrics, non-adherent dressings aim to reduce trauma and pain during dressing changes.

Non-adherent dressings, suitable for burns and skin grafts, may not be ideal for heavily exudative or infected wounds, as they can create a favourable environment for bacterial growth.

When to use Non-adherent dressing:

  • Superficial wounds like abrasions.
  • Protection for burns to prevent further damage.
  • Donor sites after skin grafting.
  • Postoperative wounds for added protection.

Wound dressings steps

Wound dressing steps include:

1. Choosing the right type of wound dressing

Selecting the right dressing is crucial for proper wound healing and infection prevention. Considerations include wound type, healing stage, and the amount of fluid or exudate produced.

2. Clean the wound before applying the dressing

Before dressing a wound, thoroughly clean it with mild soap, water, or saline solution to remove dirt and reduce infection risk. Be gentle, as this step may cause discomfort.

3. Use proper application techniques

Follow proper application techniques for wound dressings to promote healing and prevent complications. Adhere to provided instructions, changing the dressing to keep the wound clean and protected.

4. Monitor the wound for signs of infection

Regularly check the wound for signs like redness, swelling, or pus. Early detection helps prevent complications; contact your wound care specialist if you notice these symptoms.

5. Seek medical attention If necessary

Deep or severe wounds left untreated can lead to complications. If you have concerns about your wound or dressing, seek prompt medical attention from a wound care specialist, Prof. Dr. Robert Hierner for proper treatment.

For wound-related enquiries or dressing guidance, Prof. Dr. Robert Hierner expert team is ready to assist. Committed to delivering high-quality care, we can guide you toward healing. 

Book an appointment today.