Simply put, Biofilm found in a wound is an infection. Inside that infection are microbes, or living germs that form colonies – that’s right, actual colonies! These little colonies are formed of a mix of different germs like bacteria, fungus, yeast, algae, cellular debris and other microorganisms that attach to the surface of a wound, secreting a gummy substance in the process. The problem with biofilm is that it often leads to issues like chronic wounds and infection of the tissue. That’s because biofilm is tough to get rid of.
How to Know if it’s Biofilm
If you think your wound has produced biofilm, call your local wound care specialist and go in for a visit. One way to tell is if a wound’s progress has been stagnant for a period of about a month. That could mean a biofilm colony has taken over your wound. Although biofilms are microscopic and therefore mostly unseen, they do present as a shiny layer of film over the wound. Signs and symptoms of an infection are nearly nonexistent when it comes to biofilm. There is no pain associated with it. No other pus or discharge come out of it.
As biofilm becomes larger and the colony of living germs grows, they become easier to identify. Again, biofilms are composed of a mix of different germs. That means that different strains of germ come together to form it. Your biofilm may be composed of various strains of bacteria, yeast, algae, microbes, and a bunch of cellular debris. When these microorganisms attach themselves to the wound’s surface, that’s when a viscous substance is secreted and thus, the biofilm forms.
Why Biofilms Can Be a Challenge
Here’s the thing. Biofilms are a challenge. That’s because even antibiotics can’t stop them entirely. Antibiotics are designed to attack bacteria, but only partially eliminate the bacteria contained in biofilm. Large antibody microbicides are paralyzed by the matrix of dense exopolymeric material or EPM. In other words, they can’t do their job. In fact, many chronic wounds contain biofilm. In reaction, wound care specialists treat with sharp debridement (or the sharp technique), but even then, the biofilm may reform a few days later. This is the tricky nature of biofilm.
The Challenge of Biofilm
- Can promote anaerobic bacteria growth
- Can create synergism between different bacteria
- Is capable of generating MRSA-resistant proteins
- Can produce negative charges of polysaccharides
- Can DNA-bind cationic molecules like Ag+ and polyhexamethylene biguanide
Ways to Manage a Biofilm
The best way to disrupt the growth of biofilm is sharp debridement of the wound, also called the sharp debridement technique. This will promote faster healing. That said, even after sharp debridement, biofilm may persist. To assist with healing (and lessen the probability of biofilm reforming) treat the wound with antimicrobial or bacteriostatic ointment and dressing. An alginate or polymeric foam may help stop the reformation of biofilm. Find more suggestions below.
Prevents Reformation of Biofilm
The following dressings and ointments may help prevent the reformation of biofilm. In addition to alginate and polymeric foam, these are the greatest solutions.
- Silver-impregnated dressings
- Dressings containing cadexomer iodine
- Dressings with methylene blue
- Systemic antibiotic ointment
May Help Biofilm Grow (DON’T use)
When it comes to biofilm, these are the dressings and applications NOT to use. These may actually help the biofilm grow. Biofilm growth is not something you want because the wound won’t heal and will continue to be chronic.
- Gauze dressings
- Skin graft applications
Maggot Debridement Therapy
One possible treatment for chronic biofilm is Maggot Debridement Therapy. With this therapy, maggot larvae are placed at the site of the wound and actually work to dissolve necrotic tissue and replace it with healthy tissue that doesn’t have biofilm.
Biofilm is a wound infection that contains tiny microbes and other germs that mix and colonize. The signs and symptoms of biofilm are nearly nonexistent, but for a shiny film that forms. While biofilm doesn’t hurt and doesn’t have negative symptoms like pain or pus, the wound will get stuck in one particular phase, never progressing. Even worse, antibiotic treatments that are made to kill microbes and bacteria often don’t work on biofilm. That said, there are certain treatments for biofilm, including lesser-known treatments like Maggot Debridement Therapy.
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. Our clinic includes highly trained and experienced physicians, registered nurses, and certified medical staff who work together to provide you with the highest standards of wound care treatments.