Primary and Secondary Dressings

A Quick Overview: What’s The Difference Of Primary and Secondary Dressings?

Different Types of Primary and Secondary Dressings for Wound Care

Primary Dressing

The difference between Primary Dressings and Secondary Dressings is that primary dressings are typically applied directly to the wound and are designed to protect the wound from infection and to promote healing. Primary dressing basically refers to the first layer of dressing applied to a wound. It can be used along with topical anti-bacterial ointments or gels that help in keeping the wound clean and expedite the healing process. Primary dressings should be able to absorb exudate (wound fluid) from the wound to prevent maceration (softening of the surrounding skin) and promote healing. These dressings can be cut into different shapes and can also be used for wound packing. They should be kept dirt free as any kind of contamination of the primary dressing could harm the wound and cause an unwanted infection.

Secondary Dressing

The secondary dressings on the other hand do not come in contact with the wound directly but entirely cover the wound. Secondary dressing refers to the layer of dressing applied over the primary dressing. Its main purpose is to hold the primary dressing in place, protect the wound from external contamination and maintain a moist environment around the wound. Secondary dressings are typically used in conjunction with primary dressings to ensure that the wound stays clean and protected. They are made with the sole purpose of being firm and strong so that they can support the primary dressing in a proper manner. They have high adhesiveness and are hypoallergenic so as to avoid any skin rashes or irritation. They are made from such materials that allow the wound to be monitored without removing the dressing. Dressings such as gauze bandages, compression bandages, cohesive bandages, and conformable bandages are one of the most common types of secondary dressings.

Types of Primary and Secondary Dressings

Gauze dressings:

Gauze or cloth bandages are made from woven or non-woven materials and are highly absorbent. They can be used for a variety of wound types. The most common are gauze sponges and gauze rolls. You can use gauze sponges and gauze rolls depending on the kind, size, or location of the wound that needs to be dressed. Gauze sponges absorb the extra fluid that injuries may produce from damage.

How to dress a wound with gauze?
  • Firstly, get hold of sterile gauze dressing pads and place one of them directly over the wound. Press down gently to secure it in place.
  • Use medical tape or bandages to secure the gauze pad in place. Make sure the tape or bandages are not too tight, as this can cause discomfort or restrict blood flow.
  • Then wrap the ends of the bandage around the injured part, making sure the entire dressing pad is covered.
  • Secure the bandage by tying the short and long ends together in a reef knot, over the top of the gauze pad to keep pressure on the wound.
  • Then monitor the circulation by pressing a nail or skin beyond the wound for five seconds until it goes pale.
  • If blood oozes out through the dressing, remove it and reapply pressure with a new dressing or pad to control the bleeding. Once the bleeding is under control, secure it in place with the bandage to maintain the pressure.

Sterile vs. Non-sterile gauze

Sterile gauze and non-sterile gauze are both types of gauze dressings that are used to cover and protect wounds. The main difference between the two is the level of sterilization. Sterile gauze is packaged and sealed in a way that prevents the introduction of bacteria and other microorganisms during storage and transport. It is packaged in a sterile environment and is intended for use on wounds that are at high risk of infection, such as surgical incisions, deep puncture wounds, and burns.

Non-sterile gauze, on the other hand, is not packaged or sealed in a way that prevents the introduction of bacteria and other microorganisms. It is intended for use on wounds that are at low risk of infection, such as minor cuts, scrapes, and abrasions.

Collagen Wound Dressings:

Collagen wound dressings are a type of advanced wound care product that is designed to promote the healing of chronic and acute wounds. Collagen is a protein that is naturally found in the body and is important for the growth and repair of skin and other tissues. Collagen wound dressings are made from either animal-derived or synthetic collagen and are applied directly to the wound. They work by providing a scaffold for new tissue to grow on and by releasing growth factors that promote healing. Collagen dressings can come in multiple various forms, including sheets or powders to absorb wound exudate or as a gel to provide moisture to the wound site.

Hydrocolloid vs. Hydrogel Dressings:

Hydrocolloid dressings are made of a combination of gelatin, pectin, and other materials that form a gel-like substance when in contact with wound exudate. They work by creating an occlusive environment that helps to keep the wound moist and prevent dehydration. They also help to reduce pain, promote granulation and protect the wound from bacteria and other contaminants. Hydrocolloid dressings examples include Duoderm, Comfeel, and RepliCare.

Is Hydrocolloid dressing primary or secondary?

Hydrocolloid dressings may be used as both primary and secondary dressings to manage select pressure ulcers, partial and full-thickness wounds, wounds with necrosis or slough, and wounds with light to moderate exudate.

Hydrogel Dressing

On the other hand, Hydrogel dressings are made of a gel-like substance that contains water, glycerin, or other moisturizing agents. They work by providing a moist environment that helps to soften and remove dead tissue, promote granulation and epithelialization, and reduce pain. Hydrogel dressings are often used in the early stages of wound healing as they do not provide the same level of protection against bacteria and other contaminants as hydrocolloid dressings.

Hydrogel dressings examples include:

Amorphous Gels:

    • SoloSite
    • Duoderm gel
    • Intrasite gel
    • Purilon gel
    • Activgel

Gel sheets:

    • Curafil
    • Aquaclear
    • Hydrosorb

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