Transparent film dressings are thin, flexible sheets of clear polyurethane incorporating an adhesive coating on one side to allow adherence to the skin. The adhesive reacts with wound fluid to prevent adhesion to the wound bed, while allowing the dressing to stick to the dry, periwound skin. Film dressings are highly elastic and conformable to body contours, and are suitable for use either as a primary or secondary dressing. The transparent quality of film dressings allows useful visualization of the wound bed.
Transparent film dressings have one very important property. They are permeable to water vapor, oxygen, and carbon dioxide, but impermeable to bacteria and water. This means that oxygen is allowed into the wound to promote healing, while the water vapor and carbon dioxide produced are allowed to escape. The dressing also acts as an effective barrier to water and bacteria. It is this semi-permeable nature of transparent film dressings that helps them achieve lower overall infection rates than traditional gauze dressings.
Transparent film dressings are indicated in the management of minor burns and scalds and simple injuries such as skin tears, lacerations, and abrasions. They may also be used on partial-thickness wounds and donor sites, and as a post-operative dressing over suture lines. Films may be used on red granular wounds and yellow slough-covered wounds with minimal drainage. Film dressings are also suitable in areas of friction to allow reduce shearing forces between the skin and the support surface. Because film dressings are waterproof, they may be used to cover intravenous catheter sites or wounds, to allow bathing.
Transparent film dressings may be left in place for a week or even longer. However, they should be removed if an increased level of exudate causes pooling under the dressing, as this can lead to maceration of both the wound and the surrounding skin. Use of the dressing should also be discontinued if the wound becomes clinically infected.
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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