Foams are absorbent dressings that are available either in adhesive or non-adhesive form. They are often used as a primary dressing, but may also be used as a secondary dressings in some circumstances. Some foam dressings are thin, while others are thicker and provide greater cushioning and absorption.
Foams are formed from polymers, such as polyurethane, that have small open cells that are able to trap moisture. They are permeable to gas, with relatively high moisture-vapor transmission rates, but act as a barrier to bacteria. Some foams have a film backing that decreases the rate at which moisture vapor can escape.
The “Ideal” Wound Dressing
Foam dressings have sometimes been described as the ideal dressing. They absorb exudate, permit gaseous exchange, maintain a moist wound environment, and protect the surrounding skin from maceration. They also provide thermal insulation that raises the core temperature of the wound. Foams conform to body shape, provide protection and cushioning, and may be removed without causing trauma to frail skin. As an added advantage, foam is also easy and economical to use.
When Should Foam Dressings be Used?
Foams may be used for granulating or slough-covered partial- and full-thickness wounds, with minimal to heavy exudate. Wounds that are suitable for foam dressings include post-operative and traumatic wound sites, donor sites, minor burns, diabetic ulcers, pressure ulcers and venous insufficiency ulcers. Foam dressings can also be used under compression bandaging or as a secondary dressing for amorphous hydrogels and alginates.
Non-adhesive foams should be used on patients with fragile skin integrity. If foams are used on infected ulcers, the dressing should be changed daily. Foams are not indicated for dry or eschar-covered wounds.
To learn more about these dressings and others, you may wish to consider becoming certified as a wound care specialist. The benefits of wound certification are immeasurable, both to your own career and to the standard of care that you can offer your patients. And, because Medicare and other organizations are now holding healthcare professionals responsible for outcomes in wound care, there has never been a better time to become a wound care specialist.
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