Foam Dressings 101: The correlation between absorption, density, & frequency of change

by Janis Harrison, RN, BSN, CWOCN, CFCN



Foam dressings are made of polyurethane.


Polyurethane can be created with different sized cells, and the size of cells in a specific dressing dictates the density of the foam which then dictates the absorption rate.


Foam dressings are designed to absorb and hold exudate away from the wound while still allowing the wound to remain moist.


"Less dense" foams provide faster absorption; however this often leads to more frequent dressing changes since maximum absorption is met sooner.


On the other hand, a "more dense" foam absorb at a slower speed, requiring fewer dressing changes because you can leave it on the wound for a longer period of time before maximum absorption is reached.


Foams come with and without an adhesive perimeter. Those without adhesives can be secured using tape or a rolled gauze.


Foams are available in several sizes and shapes, making them ideal for the elbow, heel, and sacrum as well as the flat surfaces of the body. These dressings can often be cut or may even conform easily to the shape of the contours treated.


Foams are typically changed up to 3 times per week and are covered by Medicare for qualifying wounds that have moderate or heavy drainage present.


Foams on the market:

• Allevyn

• Allevyn Life

• KerraFoam

• Mepilex

• Polymem

• Restore Foam

• Hydrofera Blue

• Tegaderm Foam


Contact Halo for ordering options. and be sure to check with the manufacturer on which side of the dressing is to be placed against the wound bed.

Written by Janis Harrison, RN, BSN, C.W.O.C.N & C.F.C.N. and owner of Harrison WOC Services, L.L.C. in Thurston, Nebraska.

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