A Continuum of Choice of Wound Dressing

There are more than 3,000 types of wound dressing available on the market today, and more are being launched every day. Although there are a number of protocols and algorithms available to help with the choice of wound dressing, and individual facilities are likely to have their own dressings of choice, the decision can still seem overwhelming. Even the most seasoned wound care practitioner can find it difficult to assess the advantages and disadvantages of each dressing available and to make the appropriate choice for a particular patient.

Narrowing Down the Choice of Wound Dressing

Rather than consider each dressing in isolation, a useful technique can be to mentally place each type of dressing on a continuum of occlusion. Traditional gauze dressing are the least occlusive type of dressing and would lie at one extreme of the continuum. Then, in order of increasing occlusion would follow calcium alginate, impregnated gauze, semipermeable film, semipermeable foam, hydrogels, hydrocolloids, and finally latex as the most occlusive dressing type. Clearly, there will be some degree of overlap between dressing types, and other considerations will need to be taken into account. However, ordering dressing types in this way is an effective way of simplifying the final decision, allowing the wound care specialist to more easily select an appropriate wound dressing based on manufacturers’ claims and previous experience.

Specific Properties of Wound Dressings

There are a number of types of dressing that don’t fit onto the continuum of occlusion, predominantly antimicrobial dressings, such as silver-based dressings or cadexomer iodine, as well as wound fillers, polyacrylates and other novel dressings including honey-based dressings. These types of dressing have specific properties and roles within wound management and will be considered in future articles.

Wound Dressing Properties

To learn more about selecting the appropriate dressing for a particular wound, and how the properties of each dressing can determine its use and role in wound management, consider training for a certification in wound care. The training can take as much time as you like, and allows you to refresh your knowledge and investigate further subjects of particular interest.

Learn More With Our Wound Care Education Options

Interested in learning more about wound care and certification? Browse through our wound care certification courses for information on our comprehensive range of education options to suit healthcare professionals across the full spectrum of qualifications and experience.


  1. Fleck CA. Wound Assessment Parameters and Dressing Selection. Adv Skin & Wound Care. 2006;19(7):364-373.
  2. Hess CT. QUICK TIPS: Choosing a Wound Dressing. Adv Skin & Wound Care. 2005;18(2):70-72
  3. Myers BA. Wound management principles and practice. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson; 2008.

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