Proper dressing removal is a part of an effective treatment regimen.

A proper wound care regimen involves two equally important steps. The first is actually dressing the wound, in which dressings are placed to cover the wound and prevent harmful exposure. However, save for a few rare exceptions, most wounds require several dressing changes, which can be a rather delicate process. If wounds are not properly re-dressed, it can lead to infections and other problems in the wound healing process. Here is everything you need to know about how to properly remove more advanced wound care products:

Knowing when to change wound dressings

As powerful as they are, the most common wound healing products are also fairly sensitive. If the wound site conditions aren’t optimal, that can result in an abrasion, ulcer or other injury that doesn’t heal properly. That’s why dressings need to be changed frequently, but this process cannot be done arbitrarily. There are several key indicators for a dressing change, according to the Wound Care Society. These signs include:

  • The emergence of any fluids – like pus or blood – soaking through the dressing’s surface.
  • Following any bath, shower or other period of cleaning that might involve wound exposure.
  • If the existing bandage or dressing has become loose or has otherwise begun to migrate.
  • The patient has been experiencing increased pain, redness or itchiness around the wound.

Before changing any dressing, though, always consult with your physician to get his or her input and perspective.


As one of the most widely used forms of dressing, alginate is preferred by physicians for a number of reasons. Among those reasons is that it can be removed with much less pain than most cellulose dressings, as World Wide Wounds pointed out. However, alginate can still adhere to a wound bed, especially one that is dry or has an abundance of dead tissue. To remove most alginate dressings, it’s important to slowly peel the dressing off the wound. If any larger pieces or even fibers become stuck, use a saline solution to remove these bits from the edges of the wound.


Among wound dressings, hydrogel is noted for infusing most wounds with an abundance of moisture. This leads to a number of benefits, including helping with autolytic debridement, reducing pain levels and filling up negative space. However, the added moisture makes removal more complicated. For amorphous hydrogel, it’s important to use saline to wash out the wound bed. Meanwhile, if you’ve got a hydrogel sheet instead, the key is to slowly remove it by starting with the corner furthest from the wound. If any particulates happen to stick, use saline to douse the entire wound.


Whereas some dressings need to be changed every few days, collagen can be used for up to seven full days. Unless, of course, it’s used on an infected wound, which requires daily dressing changes. Most forms of collagen are derived from cow and pig sources, and that added moisture content is perfect for dry wounds. There is also a reduced risk for adverse reactions and even itchiness. When they do need to be removed, collagen dressings are fairly easy to handle. Because of their moisture content, these dressings almost never stick. This can occur, however, if the dressings are used on burns or very dry abrasions.


Similar to collagen, hydrocolloid dressings can last up to a full week. On the one hand, hydrocolloid is a great choice because it reduces contamination from harmful bacterial or fungal strains and won’t adhere to the wound bed, which streamlines the removal process. However, hydrocolloid does have several notable restrictions. Namely, it’s generally not recommended for infected wounds or wounds with low-to-moderate exudate. Even if its used on the proper injury, though, you’ll still need to make sure the hydrocolloid dressing is removed in the direction of growing hair.

Ask your clinician which Advanced Tissue products are best for your wound care needs.