Gauze is a fabric that has many different uses, medical gauze is specifically used in wound care. Gauze pads, bandage rolls, and other medical dressings all take advantage of the highly absorbent quality of gauze. It is a versatile product and can be used by itself or it can be saturated with petroleum like in Xeroform. When it comes to medical gauze you will have a lot of choices so it is best to ask your doctor for a recommendation. If you are using medical gauze to treat an open wound then you should make sure you are using a sterile gauze. It is important that wounds are kept clean and the best way to do that is to use sterile medical supplies. Switching from regular nitrile gloves and using sterile gloves instead can keep a sterile zone for your wound. Your medical supply store should have a selection of types of gauze, such as sterile gauze pads, bandage rolls, nitrile gloves, and wound cleansers. All of these can help you avoid infection.
Two Main Types of Medical Gauze:
Woven gauze has a loose open weave. The loose nature of the weave allows the fluid from the wound to be absorbed into the fibers. The open weave helps the wound fluid to pass through the gauze and be absorbed by other more absorbent dressings such as a gauze pads or sponges. Woven gauze cannot be cut, the cotton material, because it is woven, will start to unravel. The debris or lint can get lost in the wound which will delay healing. Woven gauze is a general gauze that is used as a secondary dressing. It should not be used directly against a wound because it can dry the wound out which will make dressing removal painful and it would damage any newly healed tissues.
Non Woven Gauze
Non woven gauze is made from fibers that resemble a weave but they are not woven, they are pressed together and condensed. This tight pattern helps non-woven gauze absorb more wound fluid, which really means that it increases the over-all absorbency. Non woven gauze has less loose lint than traditional woven gauze which means fewer bits and pieces of gauze left behind in your wound. Those small pieces of fluff and lint can cause problems because any type of debris in your wound can delay healing. Non woven fibers are usually made with polyester or rayon and sometimes they are blends of both. This gauze tends to be more durable and more comfortable than woven gauze pads. Non woven gauze can be used as a primary dressing.
Different Styles of Medical Gauze:
These gauze dressings are coated or saturated with pharmaceutical materials, such as petroleum jelly and they are used because they will not stick to wounds. They are also an occlusive dressing which means the dressing prevents air from reaching the wound. This will protect the wound from bacteria and it can help medicine stay in place.
Used for holding other wound dressings in place, gauze rolls can be wrapped around the body and secured with medical tape. They are also used to pad an injured area to increase comfort and protect tender wound sites. Most gauze rolls are not very absorbent which is why they are generally a secondary dressing. padding for comfort, and protection of tender wound sites. Gauze rolls can be cotton, elastic, or a nylon and latex mix, the pattern tends to be fluff dried with crinkle-weave. Most gauze rolls are not overly absorbent.
Gauze pads are also called gauze sponges, the terms can be used interchangeably, gauze sponges are not more absorbent, it is just another name for gauze pads. Gauze pads are folded into a square, the layers are then referred to as "ply". The ply level is how many layers the folded gauze creates, such as 8 ply or 12 ply. The higher the ply, the thicker the gauze square because it will have more layers. Gauze pads are available in sterile and non-sterile, if the gauze pad is going to be used in wound care then sterile is preferred. Gauze pads can be either woven or non woven and can come in a variety of sizes. The typical open weave of gauze helps absorb wound fluid as well as aiding in the cleaning of dead tissue from the skin. Pads like these can be made with a variety of materials and your medical professional will be able to tell you what kind of gauze pad your wound requires. Common sizes are 2" x 2", 3" x 3", and 4" x 4".
Sterile vs Non Sterile
Define sterile: in regards to wound care, sterile means that the product is individually packaged and is free from dirt, bacteria, or other living microorganisms. It is a totally clean product that can be used in the treatment of open wounds. Non sterile wound dressings or medical gauze should not be used on open wounds. They can be used for cushioning bruises or other types of closed wounds. Sterile gauze is going to be packaged to prevent the contents from being exposed to outside surfaces or dirt. If you would like your sterile gauze to stay as sterile as possible before you apply it to the wound then you will want to create a sterile zone. Handle the gauze with clean hands while wearing sterile gloves. If you need to put the gauze down before applying it to the wound, only put it down on top of a new sterile drape. Once the sterile dressing comes into contact with a non sterile surface than it is no longer sterile. It takes patience and attention to detail to change wound dressings and this is why it should be left to a medical professional unless you have been instructed on how to do it by your doctor. Some types of wounds need specific care and they could need specific types of gauze as well. Wounds can become infected which not only delays healing but it can also cause fevers and sickness. If you notice any of the following signs of infection, seek medical help and advice immediately.
Signs of infection = call your doctor right away
- Redness expanding around your wound
- Increased swelling
- Increased levels of pain or tenderness
- Yellow, off-white, or green discharge draining from wound
- Change in smell, pungent and unpleasant smell emitting from the the wound