There are several ideas to keep in mind when choosing wound dressings.

If you’ve ever spoken with your doctor, or even browsed through your local medical supply store, you might already be aware of the options patients have for wound dressings. With so much variety available, including different styles, core materials and basic usage, it can be difficult to choose the right dressing for your unique wound healing needs. If you find yourself stuck seeking out the best option, follow these handy tips for choosing the best dressing:

1. Know your types

While there is an abundance of wound dressing types available, not every dressing might be suitable for your treatment plan. There are basically four dressing types most patients use, and each one works with a handful of wounds. Hydrocolloid is best for burns, venous ulcers and as a support with compression wraps. Alginate, meanwhile, is ideal for wounds with excess drainage, or stage III or IV pressure ulcers. Hydrogel is your best bet for wounds without a lot of excess fluid, like those that are infected or already necrotic. Finally, you want to go for collage dressings if you’re dealing with bed sores, chronic wounds or transplant sites.

2. Know what not to use

If you’re having problems selecting your wound dressing, it may help to follow the Royal Pharmaceutical Society: Eliminate options you know will impede wound healing. There is a myriad of options, from cleansers to ointments that will do more harm than good. For instance, anything with sodium hypochlorite will actually damage the capillaries and surrounding cells. Topical antibiotics will only increase the resistance capability of some bacterial strains. Even some topical desloughing agents contain streptokinase, which can lead to a loss of sensation. Sometimes knowing what to avoid makes the right options come into focus.

3. Know what you’re talking about

If you were buying a car, you’d spend some time researching the various models, deciding what you want and then picking a car that has everything you want for the best price. The same techniques should apply to how you choose wound dressings, and that means doing as much research as possible. Read plenty of FAQ lists and case studies: These are great resources to help you understand what goes into diagnosing and treating wounds. You can also read studies; For instance, a 2014 review published in the Advances in Wound Care outlines offers insight into the best characteristics of wound dressings. Even your doctor or caregiver is a great source of information, as he or she can tackle concepts as they apply to you directly.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in specialized wound care supplies, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.