Depending on the drainage, this component of wound healing can actually be a sign of success.

Though not always the case, a large number of open wounds experience drainage, or as it’s called by physicians, exudate. Though this secretion of fluids is part of a normal wound healing process, it can also indicate the presence of harmful infections or any unhealthy inflammation. As such, it’s important to understand the various types of wound drainage to better grasp just what your average wound care regimen might entail. Here are the three most common types of wound exudate:

Sanguineous drainage

Composed primarily of blood, sanguineous drainage is generally bright in color and rather thick in its overall consistency, with some comparisons being made to syrup. This specific drainage is most common in deep partial-thickness and full-thickness wounds. During the inflammation stage of the healing cycle, a little bit of sanguineous drainage is normal as it indicates proper circulation. However, if you’re still experiencing drainage after a few hours, it can indicate trauma to the wound site. Serosanguineous drainage features added plasma, which makes the run-off appear pink in color. Serosanguineous exudate is usually indicative of damage to blood vessels and capillaries.

Serous drainage

The result of protein and other fluids found in human tissue, serous drainage is generally clear in color, though it can occasionally have a slightly brownish hue. A minimal amount of serous drainage is not only normal, but actually important, as this drainage contains sugars, white cells, proteins and several other chemicals that are vital for the healing process. However, too much serous exudate can indicate a high level of bioburden, which relates to an abundance of potentially harmful bacteria and other microorganisms.

Purulent discharge

Unlike the aforementioned discharge types, purulent is almost never part of a normal and healthy wound care regimen. That’s because this form of drainage contains components like pus, white blood cells, dead bacteria and various inflammatory cells, all signs of an infection. In fact, as the infection worsens, the purulent discharge will increase in both capacity and overall consistency. Fortunately, it’s easy to discern purulent’s harmful nature given that it’s either yellow, brown or sickly green in color. By the time the drainage has become seropurulent – which is more translucent in hue but considerably much thicker in consistency – the wound is very likely infected and will require significant intervention.

Measuring drainage

Not only do doctors pay attention to the color and consistency of the wound, but the amount of actual drainage is just as vital in diagnosing issues. As Wound Care Advisor pointed out, levels of drainage are broken down by the percentage of total saturation:

  • Scant drainage: Far below 25 percent saturation, which means dressings are only slightly moist.
  • Minimal drainage: Usually no more than 25 percent saturation, and dressings are considered mostly damp.
  • Moderate drainage: Anything between 25 percent and 75 percent saturation, which means dressings are soaked.
  • Copious drainage: The most severe level, which includes 75 percent saturation. Serious intervention is almost always required.

Additionally, doctors pay attention to the odor of the wound site, specifically its strength and any specific smells, like fecal matter or general mustiness.

For wounds with particularly high levels of drainage, you’ll need to rely on the latest in wound dressing technologies. That’s where Advanced Tissue comes in. As the nation’s leader in the delivery of specialized wound care supplies, Advanced Tissue promptly ships supplies to individuals at home and in long-term care facilities.