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Report Shows Medical Foams are Dominating the Wound Care Industry

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In Brief

Proper wound dressings are critical to the healing process. The right dressing prevents infection and creates an environment that supports healthy healing. The global wound dressing market is expected to hit $8.46 billion by 2021, and foam dressings are projected to hold the largest segment of the market through the forecast period. Researchers think the popularity of foam dressings is partly due to patient awareness of advanced wound products. Why are foam dressings such valuable tools?

Why Choose Foams?

Foam wound dressings are ideal for wounds with a moderate to high amount of exudate since foam dressings can absorb up to 20 times their weight. Foams maintain a moist environment that is conducive to wound healing, allowing water vapor to enter while keeping bacteria and other contaminants out. They achieve this balance because they are usually made of semipermeable polyurethane, and have a waterproof or hydrophobic outer layer. 

 

Foams are also versatile, coming in a variety of sizes and shapes. Foams can be used both as the primary dressing by being laid directly on the wound or as a secondary dressing, covering another dressing for added protection. Ideal applications include abrasions, incisions, lacerations, pressure ulcers, and infected or draining wounds. The increasing incidences of diabetes and an aging population make foam dressings even more popular. Eldercare facilities in particular find foam dressings to be ideal for their patients. Here's a quick list of the advantages of foam dressings.

  • Foam dressings won't stick to the wound.
  • They can be made with hypoallergenic materials for sensitive patients.
  • The dressings are water-resistant, making home-care easier. 
  • Foams can accommodate swelling. 
  • They serve as a cushion to protect the wound, and to increase comfort for the patient. 
  • They can be used even if a wound is infected.
  • They are suitable for wounds with hypergranulation, i.e. when excess tissue occurs due to abnormal healing.
  • Foams can be used during compression therapy.
  • They are easy to apply and remove. 
  • They are comfortable for the patient.
  • Multi-directional stretch makes foams ideal for areas that require movements, such as joints, skin folds, and other irregularly contoured places. 

Recent Advances

While the construction of foam dressings seems simple, scientists are still working to make them even more practical for advanced wound care. For example, earlier this year MediPurpose, a manufacturer of medical products, announced the availability of silver foam wound dressings. Why silver? Because of its molecular makeup, silver stops bacteria from forming chemical bonds. The silver works in two ways: It prevents the bacteria from multiplying and breaks down a bacteria's cell walls without harming the surrounding tissue. Silver has proven so effective that many hospitals use silver-based tools, furniture, and wall partitions to prevent the spread of infection. Studies have shown silver to be better at fighting superbugs and bacterial strains than some antibiotics. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can be eliminated with silver-based dressings. 

 

Another recent advance in foam dressings was launched in the U.S. last year by UK firm ConvaTec Group. While foam dressings are typically used for wounds with a high amount of exudate, ConvaTec designed a flexible silicone foam dressing specifically designed for low to non-exuding wounds. Like traditional foams, the silicone version maintains moisture while providing a protective barrier from water and contaminants. However, it is much thinner as it is designed for wounds that do not need the absorbency of regular foam dressings.

 

U.S. company Hartmann released a line of silicone foam dressings that include an antimicrobial option earlier this year. Their products range in size to accommodate high, medium and low exudate wounds. The antimicrobial option releases silver ions for seven days. FDA has approved several companies in the advanced wound care market to increase their product offerings in this market. No doubt we'll continue to see innovations in this field. 

 

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