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Hydrogel dressings and their application in burn wound care

02 July 2019
Volume 3 · Issue 3


After a burn injury, skin loses its protective properties, leaving the body open to a number of complications. The gold standard treatment for burn wounds is autologous skin grafting; however, this may not always be an option, due to insufficient amounts of donor skin. Wound dressings can be used as a primary treatment in those patients who are unsuitable for skin grafting. Many different materials are used to make the dressings; current materials include hydrocolloids, alginates, hydrogels, collagen and hyaluronic acid. There is currently no gold standard of burns dressing that is universally accepted. However, hydrogels have been shown to exhibit a great number of beneficial properties and are the most favourable for use in burns patients. We discuss the use of hydrogel dressings, including their properties and clinical application.

Wound healing after a burns injury is a global medical concern. Burns are among the leading causes of disability, with 27 million burns annually requiring professional treatment. Of these, seven million patients will require hospitalisation.1 The skin is the largest organ in the human body, and it plays a vital role in fluid balance, temperature regulation, immunity and protection. After a burns injury, skin will lose these protective properties, which leaves the body susceptible to a number of complications. The most important of these are a vulnerability to infections and a loss of bodily fluids.2

The gold standard treatment for burns wounds is autologous skin grafting. This is when the patient's own skin is taken from a non-injured area of the body (donor site) and transplanted onto the wounded area (recipient site).1 However, this may not always be an option, due to insufficient amounts of donor skin and risk of chronic wound development. This is especially true when there are large and extensively injured areas. Patients can also be unsuitable for skin grafting. This can be for a number of reasons, including lack of suitable donor skin, unsuitability for skin harvesting surgery due to the current physiological condition of the patient, or other pre-existing comorbidities. This is where biomaterials play an important role. Wound dressings can be used as a primary treatment in patients who are unsuitable for skin grafting and can aid wound healing in patients who have a skin graft.

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