The Monks Explore Biofilm

Advanced wound care is one of our specialties here at Medical Monks. Often, the aim of wound care practice is to apply modern technology to complications arising in chronic wounds. Biofilm, an almost invisible collection of bacteria and/or fungi that forms on the surface of the wound, is one of the most common complications practitioners see. 

As we’ve discussed, a patient with a chronic wound will often experience lengthy stagnation in the inflammatory stage of wound healing. Biofilm often contributes to this inability to move along in the process. Fortunately, medical tech has developed a variety of procedures and products to combat Biofilm, which we’ll learn about below.

What is Biofilm?

80% of chronic wounds contain biofilm. Biofilm is a collection of microorganisms, commonly bacteria and fungi, that are capable of growing on many different surfaces. It often takes the form of a slimy buildup whose purpose is to protect the colony from being reached by antibiotics so it can continue to thrive and proliferate.

The biofilm that typically develops in wounds is often only partially visible to the naked eye. That’s why, in an earlier era of medicine, its existence and effects were unknown to medical professionals.

Adverse Effects of Biofilm in Wound Healing

On a molecular level, it is still somewhat unclear how biofilm inhibits healing. However, the idea that it does inhibit healing is not debated.

When bacteria and/or fungi is present and unencumbered, it will tend to form a protective matrix of cells. This is the sticky film that surrounds the microorganisms and forms an invisible cloak that protects and hides biofilms from both the body’s immune system and antimicrobial therapies.

In simple terms, formation of biofilm is a self-perpetuating cycle. Certain conditions being present in the patient, such as diabetes or an impaired immune response, will make formation more likely. Once formation has occurred, it creates a situation where the body’s own immune-response is ineffective, even if it were at full strength.

In fact, the body’s natural immune response to an inflammation can actually, in some situations, create the perfect environment to “feed” these colonies, prolonging wound healing and damaging new tissue.

Methods of Fighting Biofilm Development

The exact science around the formation of biofilm in wounds is still ambiguous, but it is known that it occurs in a series of rapid stages. During the very early stages the process is sometimes reversible with the use of topical antibiotics and other common anti-infection remedies. 

Quickly, though, the biofilm will begin to develop its protective matrix and become much more difficult to treat. At this point, debridement is usually necessary. Sometimes, this is done as a mild surgery – physically cutting away the necrotic (dead) tissue with a scalpel or scissors. Because this method can be painful, surgical debridement tends to be a last resort. In most instances, biofilm can be dealt with using less invasive procedures. 

Mechanical Debridement

Mechanical debridement can be achieved by several means, including rubbing pads and irrigation. BIAKŌS Antimicrobial Skin & Wound products are among the leading options on the market to help with mechanical debridement of biofilm. 

They work to physically remove dirt and exudate. BIAKŌS Antimicrobial Skin and Wound Cleanser Spray is useful because of its ability to physically flush debris from the wound bed. BIAKŌS Antimicrobial Skin and Wound Irrigation Solution can be applied to the wound area or to sterile gauze, for gentle debridement. 

Both products remove biofilm at the beginning and mature stages. They also help maintain a normal, healthy PH level to help maintain an optimum environment for healing and for new tissue growth.

Autolytic Debridement

In other situations, the autolytic method of debridement (liquefying of the non-viable tissue) can be used. The autolytic method is often used as a means to combat the reformation of biofilm after the initial removal. 

BIAKŌS Antimicrobial Wound Gel is particularly useful in combating biofilm growth. It provides continuous, on-going disruption of the colonies’ ability to proliferate while maintaining a moist wound environment. It also supports the body’s own autolytic response by softening necrotic tissue.

When used in tandem with BIAKŌS, this combination of irrigation and antimicrobial therapy can be effective in preventing biofilm reformation. 

We Hope…

… this brief overview on biofilm has been informative for you or a loved one who may be experiencing a chronic wound. If you have any questions about products, Medical Monks has help available over the phone, email or LiveChat. For medical concerns, as always, please consult with your doctor or another healthcare professional. 

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