Wet to Dry Dressing: Uses, Risks, and Alternatives

The use of the wet to dry dressing is slowly declining due to the identified risks of this “archaic” type of wound treatment.

Gauze for Wet to Dry Dressing

Wet to dry dressing is one way to manage wounds. This type of dressing is usually employed by medical professionals to aid in debriding a wound. Debridement is a medical procedure that aims to remove infected or dead skin. Doing this may improve the healing process of injured patients.

For wet to dry dressing, a medical professional places a wet gauze on top of the wounded or infected area of the patient. The gauze is wet because it is soaked in a saline solution. This will aid in the debridement of the patient’s wound. As the gauze or cotton is drying out, the dressing will ideally clean and drain the wound or infected area it was applied to.

Uses of the Wet to Dry Dressing

The use of the wet to dry dressing is slowly declining due to the identified risks and disadvantages of this “archaic” type of wound treatment. It is similar to wrapping a wound some form of saline-soaked bandage or gauze to debride the wound. This will be repeated a number of times, effectively similar to pulling a scab off the patient’s skin which can be extremely painful.

Ideally, the wet to dry dressing is used for open but shallow wounds or injuries and should not be ideally used for deep wounds, gashes or cuts such as wounds caused by surgical treatments. Once applied to an open but small and shallow wound, the wet to dry dressing can be effective in debriding a wound or an injury, but the overall advantages of wet to dry dressing is now being questioned by some studies due to the availability of more recent and advanced types of the wound dressing.

Risks and Disadvantages of the Wet to Dry Dressing

As stated earlier, the wet to dry dressing has is slowly being replaced by more advanced forms of wound dressing due to some very obvious disadvantages and risks. Listed below are some of the said risks and disadvantages of wet to dry dressing:

  • The Wet to Dry Dressing is a non- selective procedure for wound treatment

Wet to dry dressings are considered non- selective procedures for the treatment of wounds. This is because it usually removes dead and infected skin cells along with the newly grown, healed and healthy skin and tissue of the injured patient’s wound.

  • It can reopen the patients’ wounds and cause bleeding, pain and distress for wounded patients

The Wet to dry dressing requires the cyclical and repeated application and removal of soaked gauze bandages to encourage debridement. However, this cyclical process will usually result in the pulling off of healthy skin and tissue, consequently resulting in bleeding and pain for the injured patients. As such, patients will feel pain and a higher level of distress due to the trauma of the procedure.

  • The improper or incomplete removal of the gauze bandage or cotton in a wet to dry dressing can cause serious wound care concerns for the injured patient

With the wet to dry dressing requiring the cyclical procedure of application and removal of the gauze bandage applied to the patient’s wound or injury, there is also a higher chance that pieces of gauze or lumps cotton are left behind on the healing but still an open wound. This may result in the patient’s wound forming a granuloma or developing some type of infection.

  • The Wet to Dry Dressing’s procedures can promote or increase the risk of impeded wound healing and the development of wound infection

Cooling of the affected tissues during the period of healing may result in the patient experiencing vasoconstriction or the narrowing of his/her blood vessels and hypoxia or lack of oxygen being distributed to his/her tissues. This potent combination of vasoconstriction and hypoxia can actually cause the wound healing process to slow down and increase the risk of infection for the wound.

  • The Wet to Dry Dressing may also be a vector for airborne infectious bacteria

The removal of the wrappings or gauze bandage of the wet to dry dressing, especially when done at home or in a non-sterile environment, may actually have the said removed wrappings or gauze bandage be a vector for airborne infectious bacteria.

Some Alternatives to the Wet to Dry Dressing

With the abovementioned risks and disadvantages of Wet to Dry Dressing, healthcare professionals are encouraged to consider other alternatives to the Wet to Dry Dressing. Gauze that comes in impregnated forms such as hydrogel silver gauze, hydrogel gauze, petroleum gauze, honey gauze, and Cadexomer iodine gel with high ply gauze, may be used as an alternative to wet to dry dressing as the said dressings prevent moisture evaporation, ensuring that the wound remains moist, promoting optimal healing and less likelihood of infection.  These impregnated gauze dressings are usually applied with a secondary dressing as the said impregnated gauze dressings are commonly non-adhesive.

Impregnated gauze dressings are mostly those treated or mixed with a specific chemical substance that promotes wound healing and provides a sterile environment to prevent further wound infection. Some of the chemical compounds used for impregnated forms of gauze would be silver, honey, iodine, and methylene dressings. Silver mixed in with gauze dressings is considered a very healthy alternative to other chemical compounds as it has a lower level of toxic metabolites and it has a slew of anti-microbial properties.

On the other hand, honey is used as a chemical compound in impregnated gauze dressings as the acid in honey promotes faster and more efficient oxygenation making the wound’s open areas unlivable to both bacteria and other infection-causing substances. Iodine is also used for impregnated gauze dressings due to its strong disinfecting qualities. Lastly, Methylene is also a chemical compound added into impregnated gauze dressings as it has anti-fungal properties. All of these chemical compounds and their impregnated gauze dressing counterparts may be used as an alternative to the traditional Wet to Dry Dressing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *