Absorptive Dressings: wound dressings composed of two or more layers manufactured as a single dressing. These dressings are generally non-adherent. The layers are made up of fibres such as cellulose, cotton, or rayon, with the ability to absorb fluids. Specialty absorptive dressings can be used as a primary dressing (the first dressing to cover the wound’s surface) or secondary dressing (a dressing to cover the primary dressing). They are easy to apply and remove, and may have an adhesive border, making additional tape unnecessary.

Active Wound Care: the use of products that administer beneficial substances to the wound. These substances contribute to wound repair either by delivering bioactive compounds or by utilizing materials that facilitate the body’s own ability to heal.

Acute Wounds: wounds caused by trauma or surgery and usually requiring limited local care.

Advanced Wound Care: the use of products that promote a moist environment, thereby accelerating the healing of many difficult-to-treat or chronic wounds. Substances that help to provide ideal moisture conditions include alginate fibre, foam, and hydrocolloid dressings.

Alginate Fibre Dressings: soft fibre dressings made from brown seaweed. Such dressings can hold up to twenty times their weight, and fill in open spaces in the wound. They are available in rope, ribbon, and pad form. Ropes are usually used to pack a hollow area or a hole. Ribbons are used to pack smaller or narrower areas than that of a rope, and pads may be used to pack a deeper area. When an alginate is packed into a wound, it will usually work with the natural fluids within the wound and form a gel. This gel maintains a moist wound-healing environment within the wound. Alginates are easily applied and easily removed, but often require an additional or secondary dressing.

Antimicrobial: an antimicrobial is a substance that kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms and pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, or protozoans, as well as destroying viruses.

Biocompatibility: the property of being biologically compatible by not producing a toxic, injurious, or immunological response in living tissue.

Biofilm: a thin layer of millions of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, algae, and protozoa) accumulated on surfaces in aqueous environments. Film-forming microbes excrete a glue-like substance that anchors them to materials such as metals, plastics, tissue, and soil particles. Biofilms are difficult to eradicate and generally have an increased resistance to antimicrobial agents.

Burn Wounds: wounds that are acute in nature and require specialized treatment due to severity of the injury and the high risk of infection.

Chronic Wounds: wounds that take longer than usual to heal because of underlying conditions such as pressure, diabetes, poor circulation, poor nutritional state, immunodeficiency, or infection.

Contact Layers: usually a single layer of woven material (netting) placed directly on an open wound. They are designed to not adhere (stick) to the bed of the wound and to protect the tissue in the wound from direct contact with foreign matter, such as dust, dirt, etc. They also prevent trauma to the wound (especially during subsequent dressing changes). Contact layers protect the wound from other dressings and allow topical products and medications to pass through to the wound bed. These dressings also allow fluid (exudate or drainage) to pass through and be absorbed by a secondary dressing.

Cytotoxic: relating to substances that are toxic to cells. Cytotoxicity encompasses the effect of a substance on all living cells, but is more commonly used when referring to human cells.

Electrochemistry (electrochemical reactions): the science of the interaction and interconversion of electric and chemical phenomena, generally within a solution.

Electroless Deposition (also known as chemical or auto-catalytic deposition): a coating method that involves several simultaneous reactions in an aqueous solution and that occurs without the use of external electrical power.

Foams: porous materials that absorb light or heavy amounts of fluid (drainage, called exudate) and that may be used to resist dust, dirt and other contaminants. These materials have a non-sticking surface that allows for ease of removal with less shock or trauma to the affected area. Foams create a moist healing environment for the affected area and also act as insulation.

Hydrocolloids: materials that can assist the healing process, are self-adhesive, are easy to shape, and absorb light to moderate drainage fairly well. They can be occlusive (prevent air from escaping through the dressing) or semi-occlusive (allow some air to escape through the dressing).

Nosocomial Infection: a term used to describe infections acquired in a hospital or medical setting. In other words, the patient did not have this infection when admitted or examined but acquired it during the course of being treated.

Pathogen: an agent that causes disease, especially a living microorganism such as a bacterium or fungus.

Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD): a coating process that bombards the surface of a target material with charged particles of gas, causing atoms of the target material to be ejected and subsequently deposited onto surrounding surfaces.

Traditional Wound Care: the use of products that are dry and relatively unsophisticated in construction (gauze, finger bandages, etc.). Since many wounds can be healed with products that do nothing more than cover and protect the wound from infection, these inexpensive products remain an integral part of wound care.

Virucide: having the capacity to or tending to destroy or inactivate viruses.