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Wound care trends and innovations: Are medical-grade silicone gels fit for the future of wound care?

The global market for wound dressings is growing. In addition to the ageing population, this is largely driven by the rise in diabetes, which can cause wounds to heal more slowly and progress more quickly.

Within the market, a few important trends are driving new innovations from wound care companies and their material suppliers. One trend is the desire to increase the wear time of the dressing, since whenever a dressing is removed the healing process is halted for several hours. This demands strong adhesives that do not lose their bond to the skin.

It is also critical that products can be removed atraumatically, which improves pain levels for patients and reduces the problems associated with ‘skin stripping’ – where damage is caused to the newly formed skin cells and surrounding tissue during the removal of the dressing. This requirement also ties back to healing time, since an adhesive that damages delicate tissue upon removal can lead to a longer than necessary healing process.

These requirements are particularly important when it comes to the advanced wound care products mainly used in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Such dressings go far beyond the demands of a traditional band aid. They generally make use of polyurethane backing films, to an absorbing layer, and the adhesion to skin is typically enabled by an interface layer coated with a medical-grade silicone gel.

The silicone gels are supplied in two different parts which are mixed together during manufacturing and applied onto the substrate as a thin, liquid layer. The layer is heated to cure the gel, after which a release liner is applied to protect the silicone. A roll of material is made, which can then be converted into dressings used for wound contact layers, medical tapes, scar sheets, surgical drapes, and adhesive bandages.

Medical-grade silicone in advanced wound care

“Medical-grade silicone is known by all medical companies to be a proven, biocompatible solution for advanced wound care,” says Caroline Moine, business development manager EMEA for Elkem Healthcare division. “Silicone gels provide strong adhesion to the skin, and after a few days you can then remove the adhesive without trauma, so you accelerate the healing of the patient.

“Elkem manufactures silicone gels for this application. The gels are applied onto a substrate and become the soft interface layer between the wound and the absorbing system of the dressing.”

Elkem Silicones is one of the world’s leading suppliers of silicone for the healthcare industry. For many years the company has made significant investments in its medical-grade Silbione formulations and continues to develop its industrial portfolio of soft skin adhesives to ensure they answer the needs of this market now and in the future.

“We are continuously investing in wound care,” says Moine. “What we do in R&D is following the trends of this market, and a request of the market is always to accelerate the healing and provide a clinical benefit to the patient. There is also a general trend towards increasing the level of adhesion to the skin and to make the manufacturing process of the product easier.”

Launched in May this year, the new silicone gel Silbione™ RT Gel 4660 offers enhanced adhesion without causing any trauma on removal. The most significant difference between this product and the previous generations is its ease of processing since the gel provides direct bonding to difficult substrates without the need for a priming step beforehand. In addition to that, it is also compatible with all standard release liners. The product has been granted the required biocompatibility certification (ISO 10993) and is manufactured in a suitable environment to ensure medical-grade levels of purity and quality.

While Elkem’s latest generation of skin adhesives has not been out for long, the company is already looking for future trends. There will always be a need to further improve wear time, says Moine, meanwhile a push to move away from ethylene oxide (EtO) sterilization is also highly likely for this industry. Both trends will inform Elkem’s future R&D in the wound care space.

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