One of the biggest challenges in wound care is the proper assessment and management of wound exudate, which is essentially the fluid that flows through a wound. If your wound exudate isn’t managed the right way, your wound healing time may be negatively impacted. That’s why understanding and identifying the following qualities of wound exudate is of the utmost importance:
In addition, your wound care specialist will investigate your wound to see if the exudate is causing problems to the surrounding skin or giving you other issues that contribute to slow or improper healing. They’ll need to know if the exudate is causing maceration to the periwound or if the wound is leaking a malodorous, infected liquid. All of this is very important for proper wound healing. That’s why in this article we’re going to talk about proper exudate assessment and management strategies.
What are the Types of Wound Exudate?
There are four types of wound drainage, and they are as follows:
- Serous drainage is a clear, watery fluid that generally stops flowing when the wound is healed. It’s part of your body’s typical response to a wound during the inflammatory stage of healing. Large amounts of serous drainage are not normal and may be caused by an influx of bioburden or germ-contaminated microorganisms.
- Sanguineous drainage happens when you first cut yourself. It’s the first bits of fresh blood that come from an open wound. You’ll see this type of drainage during the first stage of healing, hemostasis and the second, inflammatory stage. When sanguineous fluid is seen after the inflammatory stage it’s likely caused by trauma to the wound, like the wound being reopened or re-injured for some reason.
- Serosanguinous drainage is pink in color and watery in consistency. It may appear in your wound as a watery liquid with a pink swirl in the middle. If there’s more pink than water, it’s not a sign of anything bad – pink-tinted water is serosanguinous too. When you see serosanguinous drainage that is dark red in color and consistently leaking, it could be a sign that the wound was reopened or has hemorrhaged.
- Purulent drainage is also known as pus. It’s milky and thick in texture. Its coloring varies, from yellow to yellowish green to green or gray. When you see purulent drainage it isn’t always a sign of infection. In fact, a small amount of pus is a sign that your wound is progressing normally. When the purulent drainage is extra thick and dark green in color, it may be a sign of infection.
In Conclusion: Considerations in Managing Exudate
Proper exudate management is reliant on knowledge. Your wound care specialist needs to know about the characteristics of the wound: how much exudate you have, the color of the exudate, and the consistency of exudate. Exudate is (generally) produced during the inflammatory stage of healing, as a result of vasodilation. But, in the case of sanguineous drainage, exudate is also produced during hemostasis. Exudate in chronic wounds should be monitored especially closely. With a chronic wound, the drainage type may change slowly or unexpectedly during the healing process, as this type of exudate contains proteolytic enzymes or protease. Chronic wounds are at a higher risk of picking up bacteria, like pseudomonas or staphylococci, which slow the healing process by preventing new cell growth. If your chronic wound becomes infected with bacteria, your wound care specialist will likely evaluate cultures of the bacteria so an accurate care plan can be initiated. They may suggest the following:
- Topical antimicrobials
- Topical antibiotics
- Antifungal ointments or salves
- Oral medication
- IV medication
When assessing and managing your exudate you also need to consider the cost of the process and how often you’ll need your dressing to be changed. If your gauze needs to be changed often, your wound care specialist may suggest a foam dressing. Foam is less expensive and can be changed often without it being a financial burden. Changing the wound is always important – even if it does become expensive. Why? By changing the dressing, you’re protecting the wound bed from being disturbed, allowing for the optimal moist environment and thus, a faster rate of healing. To sum it up, the dressing you select should be based on your preference and your wound’s characteristics. If your wound hasn’t progressed from the inflammatory phase of healing, and the exudate is still flowing, your specialist will investigate the root causes of your exudate and how you can properly manage the drainage.
Contact Wound Care OC for wound treatment in Orange County, CA
Dr. Faried Banimahd is a board-certified physician specializing in emergency medicine, wound care, and pain management. Our team will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan that meets your needs and unique conditions. Visit WoundCareOC today