Using Silver In Wound Care Manufacturing

The wound care manufacturing industry is always looking for new breakthroughs in patient care. However, not all new products are the result of brand new research. Sometimes doctors and researchers rediscover techniques that were used in the past that show new promise for the effective treatment of wounds in the present and the future. The use of silver in wound care manufacturing is just such an approach.

Using the metal silver to treat infections and wounds is one of the oldest recorded medical procedures of any kind, with evidence of its use over two thousand years ago. It’s not known if the ancients understood exactly how silver worked to increase the chances of recovery from a wound, but modern science is able to measure its antimicrobial properties.

Effective With Low Toxicity

One of the attractions of silver for wound care manufacturing is that dressings containing silver offer broad-spectrum benefits with almost no measurable toxicity. That has led the wound care manufacturing industry to introduce a series of dressings that include silver to address many different types of infections and wounds.

Elemental silver molecules are highly positively charged, and they bind readily to negatively charged particles like those found in DNA and proteins. That gives them the ability to short circuit infections, but it also poses technical problems for wound care manufacturing companies like Baril Corporation. The key to the dressings is to deliver enough of the elemental silver to the entire wound area to keep its antimicrobial activity working for the patient.

The First Modern Silver Dressings

Silver sulfadiazine is a combination of silver and a powerful antibiotic. It was first used in the late 1960s, but it has fallen out of favor as better products have been discovered. In the 1990s, researchers developed nanocrystalline silver dressings for wounds. These dressings are manufactured using two layers of polyethylene netting with a layer of gauze made from either rayon or some type of polyester. The layer of the dressing that makes contact with the wound is coated with the nanocrystalline silver.

In order to keep the antimicrobial properties working for as long as possible with this form of dressing, wound care manufacturing companies used a form of silver that is not as positively charged as in previous treatments. This leads to a slower reaction with proteins and keeps the dressing effective longer. The central layer of the dressing is designed to keep a moist environment to assist in healing, and keeps the wound from scabbing over too quickly.

Effective and Cost-Effective

This form of dressing is very effective, and it is also cost-effective. Because the dressing keeps its beneficial properties longer, it can be changed less often. Not only does this save money, it increases patient comfort because the wound isn’t constantly being touched during dressing changes.

Silver is amazingly effective on some very tough bacteria like vancomycin-resistant enterococci and MRSA. It is also effective against yeast and fungal infections. In many cases, it can kill these organisms on contact.

There are some bacteria that are resistant to the properties of silver in wound dressings. These are mostly observed in burn patients that must use large amounts of dressings where there is a high risk of infection. Some resistant bacteria include E. coli and Salmonella.

Avoiding Resistance

Silver in various forms is effective when applied to a dressing, but the challenge for the wound care manufacturing industry is to keep the silver at a high enough concentration for long enough to keep the bacteria in the wound from developing a resistance to it. Silver sulfadazine and sliver nitrate work quickly and efficiently, but they don’t offer the kind of residual action that patients need for longer-term wound care. In some cases, preparations containing these silver compounds have to be refreshed as many as twelve times every day No matter how effective a dressing or preparation might be, that kind of schedule can be difficult for a patient to endure without a lot of discomfort.

That’s why nanocrystalline silver is now preferred for many wound dressings. With longer residual action, dressing changes are much more infrequent. In some cases, doctors choose faster-acting preparations for the initial treatment, and then switch to dressings containing nanocrystalline silver when the wound is under control and the patient requires longer-term dressings.

Researchers are constantly tinkering with the type and amount of silver in preparations for wound care, and use different types of dressings to ensure the correct amount of moisture in the wound area. Increased knowledge of the particular types of bacteria that need to be fought with a particular dressing is also leading to wound care dressings that are specifically designed for specific problems.

Dealing With MRSA

For instance, nanocrystalline preparations were observed to kill MRSA in as little as thirty minutes, while other silver preparations had no visible effect. Nanocrystalline dressings also acted more quickly on other forms of organisms, but also lost its effectiveness faster.

The success of silver in treating wounds doesn’t make it a magic bullet or wound care manufacturing companies would simply use it for every type of dressing. If silver is used in concentrations high enough to be instantly lethal to bacteria, it can also have a deleterious effect on healthy cells surrounding the wound. This problem mostly manifests itself when silver is used along with cultured skin grafts, and with some skin substitutes used on burn patients.

When doctors are faced with multiple organisms at a wound site that are resistant to antibiotics, silver-impregnated dressings made possible by advances in wound care manufacturing can be an effective way to treat the wound and overcome bacteria, molds, viruses, and funguses. Unlike many of the powerful drugs that are used intravenously when tough infections are encountered during treatment, there are very few side effects from silver dressings. Resistance to the silver is possible, but if the proper amount of the element is prescribed and applied to the wound with the correct amount of dressing changes, it shows promise as one of the most effective ways to treat tough wound infections that require long term healing while avoiding the risk of infection.
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