Alginate Wound Dressings

What are the Benefits of Alginate Wound Dressings?

Alginate dressings are composed of calcium sodium alginate fibers (typically derived from seaweed or algae), which form a gel when exposed to exudate or sodium ion-containing fluids (saline) [2]. Some of their unique features and benefits include;

  • They have an excellent absorption capacity: Alginate wound dressings can absorb significant quantities of wound exudate. After taking in fluid, the alginate fibers form a soft gel, creating an environment that is moist and favorable to the healing of wounds [1]. Furthermore, the gel allows fluid retention within the dressing, preventing skin excoriation.
  • They are easy to use and comfortable: Alginate dressings are easy to apply to wounds because they are supple, malleable, conformable, and can be trimmed to shape. Additionally, they do not cause sensitization, so they can be used by individuals who are allergic to other wound care products. 
  • They limit trauma to wounds: Alginate dressings do not adhere to wounds and skin. So they can be easily removed during dressing changes without inflicting pain or trauma.
  • They have hemostatic abilities: Alginate dressings can reduce bleeding from wounds by activating platelet factors and facilitating blood coagulation [2]. 

Indications for Alginate Dressings

Alginate dressings are beneficial for treating discharging (moderate to severe) or bleeding wounds. Also, they can be used for both infected and sterile wounds. Specific indications include;

  • pressure sores, 
  • venous and arterial ulcers, 
  • diabetic ulcers, 
  • donor site injuries 
  • post-operative wounds
  • dermal lesions 
  • Traumatic injuries.

Contra-indications to Alginate Wound dressings

It is not recommended to use alginates on dry wounds, full-thickness (third-degree) burns, or sites of surgical repair.

How to Apply Alginate Dressings to Wounds

Using alginate dressings to treat your wounds is a simple and effective method of wound care. If you follow the instructions given by the manufacturer, you shouldn't run into any issues. Ensure that these dressings are applied to your wounds accurately by following the instructions.

  • Use a saline solution or a disinfectant to clean the wound and the skin around it.
  • Select the appropriate dressing size (ideally, the dressing should be a bit larger than the wound)
  • Open the dressing package in a sterile manner.
  • Apply the dressing to the wound. Ensure the dressing cover the entirety of the injury. Pack the cavity loosely with the dressing for wounds with a deep cavity.
  • Secure the alginate dressing in place with secondary, adherent wound dressings such as bordered foam dressings, e.g., Mepilex border.

When to Change Alginate Dressings

Remove the alginate dressing when it is completely soaked. Typically, alginate dressings can be placed on the wound for several days, depending on the condition of the injury and clinical practice. To change the dressing, you will need to remove the secondary dressing and dispose of it properly. After that, remove the alginate dressing from the wound area by carefully cleansing/flushing the affected area with 0.9% saline or another suitable solution. Discard soiled dressing appropriately.


Alginate dressings are an excellent wound care option for treating many injuries, especially exuding wounds.


  1. Aderibigbe, B., & Buyana, B. (2018). Alginate in wound dressings. Pharmaceutics, 10(2), 42.
  2. Crawford, M. E. (2012). Surgical dressings. In Lower Extremity Soft Tissue & Cutaneous Plastic Surgery (pp. 381–387). Elsevier.
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