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wound care, wound cleansing, wound irrigation, antimicrobial agents, bioburden



  1. Wilkins, Robert G. MBChB, FRCA
  2. Unverdorben, Martin MD, PhD


ABSTRACT: Chronic wounds present a significant societal burden in their cost of care, and they reduce patient quality of life. Key components of wound care include such measures as debridement, irrigation, and wound cleaning. Appropriate care removes necrotic tissue and reduces wound bioburden to enhance wound healing. Physical cleaning with debridement and irrigation is of documented efficacy. Wounds may be washed with water, saline, or Ringer's solution or cleaned with active ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide, sodium hypochlorite, acetic acid, alcohol, ionized silver preparations, chlorhexidine, polyhexanide/betaine solution, or povidone-iodine-the majority of which are locally toxic and of limited or no proven efficacy in enhancing wound healing. Although the consensus opinion is that these topical cleaning agents should not be routinely used, recent clinical evidence suggests that polyhexanide/betaine may be nontoxic and effective in enhancing wound healing. Further well-designed studies are needed.