Learning Dressing Categories vs. Brand Name


In the United States, millions of patients suffer from chronic wounds. Treating hard-to-heal wounds is time-consuming and requires physical resources. For a wound to heal completely, a complicated sequence of healing phases must occur.  Chronic wounds are stalled in an inflammatory state, and numerous devices and dressings have been designed to help decrease the inflammatory response, disrupt biofilm/bioburden, and promote a moist wound healing environment while allowing wounds to begin to heal. Choosing a suitable dressing is an essential factor of chronic wound healing.


1. Hemostasis

2. Inflammatory

3. Proliferative

4. Maturation



Dressing Category, Technology, and Brand Name


There are numerous dressing categories (hydrogel, alginate, foam i.e.), and doctors should keep in mind that while dressings are categorized, their product features, format, and technology may vary. Putting all dressings in the same category does not necessarily imply that they are the same. For example, collagen dressings may be derived from porcine, bovine, ovine, equine, or Piscean. Clinicians should become familiar with dressing categories, technology,  indications, and not necessarily specific brand names. Learn the technology of the dressing and appropriateness.  The clinician should be knowledgeable in the etiology of the wound, as well as the most appropriate type of dressing to use on the patient. The selection of dressings by the clinician may be impacted by the underlying characteristics of the wound. For wound healing to be successful, it is necessary to select the most appropriate dressing for the wound type. Due to a large number of products available in the wound care market, clinicians may be overwhelmed while selecting a dressing. It would be much easier to manage wounds if there was a fix-all dressing that could be utilized on any wound. Dressing selection requires a practical understanding of dressing categories, functionality, appropriateness, and reimbursement. In order to select the best wound dressing, it is vital to evaluate the wound frequently. The goal of future dressings is to deliver quantitative data to clinicians that represents the changing wound environment.

Dressing Categories


Gauze Foams
Transparent Films Antimicrobials
Alginates Hydrocolloids
Composites Super Absorbents
Collagens Hydrogels
Gelling Fiber Dressings Wound Fillers


Reimbursement Guidelines


Advanced wound care dressings should always be medically necessary, according to wound care assessment and documentation.  This includes the wound date of onset, wound etiology, wound stage, wound size, wound depth, presence of bioburden, exudate type and amount, dressing frequency, and physician wound progress. The Medicare standards payment system governs wound care dressing reimbursement. Clinicians should be aware of the payment systems, which may differ by health care facility and state location.



The views and opinions stated in this blog are exclusively those of the author and do not reflect those of iWound, its affiliates, or partner companies.


Further Reading and References


WoundSource. The Kestrel Wound Product Sourcebook (WoundSource). Kestrel Health Information, Inc.; 2018. Available at: http://www.woundsource.com

Dabiri G, Damstetter E, Phillips T. Choosing a Wound Dressing Based on Common Wound Characteristics. Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle). 2016;5(1):32-41. doi:10.1089/wound.2014.0586

Medicare & Medicaid Services. Surgical dressing services. 2020. https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/surgical-dressing-services.

Baranoski, S. (2008). Wound and skin care: Choosing a wound dressing part 1. Nursing 2008; 38 (1). p. 60-61.

Myer, B. (2008). Wound Management: Principles and Practice. (2nd Edition). Pearson Prentice Hall. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. p. 128-140.


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