Alginates are a type of wound dressing derived from seaweed. Clinicians use alginates to dress pressure ulcers, leg ulcers, post-operative wounds, and skin-graft donor sites. Alginates dressings form a soft gel when they come in contact with wound drainage creating a moist wound environment, which promotes faster healing of the wound.
Alginates have many advantages for wounds with moderate to heavy drainage. They are absorbent, they do not stick to the wound bed, and most importantly, they absorb excess drainage. This keeps the wound bed moist, but prevents it from becoming wet. Clinicians rarely use alginates on wounds with little or no drainage, because insufficient moisture exists to form the gel.
A health care clinician, caregiver or patient applies a calcium alginate dressing in an office, care facility, or at home. The dressing is either cut or shaped to fit inside the wound, and covered with a secondary dressing to keep the alginate in place and to add absorbency. Proper monitoring of the dressing will determine when it should be replaced or removed. A clinician will recommend a change of dressing depending upon the progression of the wound.
Last updated: 19-May-04