The Monks Look At Collagen Dressings

Wounds can be very stubborn. If you’re shopping for advanced wound care supplies, chances are you already know that. Fortunately, because we live in this day and age, there are alternatives when the classic gauze-and-tape routine just won’t cut it.

But what happens when the standard advanced dressings – the foams and alginates of the world – won’t do the trick either? In recent decades, medical science has looked toward the human body itself to deal with particularly slow-healing wounds. Substances like hydrocolloid and ceramide, derived from cells present in our skin, are often used to promote healing in low-thickness wounds. Collagen, a protein that gives skin its elastic strength, has been similarly developed for help with a much wider variety of injuries.

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the main protein found in the connective tissue of most animals, including us. It’s most commonly found in tendons, ligaments, and skin. It is responsible for making these tissues stretchable, yet strong.

The collagen found in dressings and other wound care products is typically derived from bovine (cow), porcine (pig) or avian (bird) sources.

How Does It Work?

In a healing wound, a series of events occurs which eventually leads to complete closure and/or scar formation. These events are known as the stages of wound healing. Collagen plays a key role in each stage. It attracts cells to the wound, which encourages debridement, among other beneficial processes. In addition, collagen treatments provide a natural “scaffold” for new tissue growth, and usually include antimicrobial agents to limit the spread of any potential infections.

The idea of using collagen for wounds is that adding additional amounts of the protein will help jump-start the healing process, giving the wound more to work with than what naturally occurs. Then, as the healing process moves along, the “scaffolding” element of the additional collagen will provide a framework for the production of new cells, bringing the skin ever closer to full reparation.

Forms and Uses

Collagen can help with a wide variety of wound types, including chronic wounds, bed sores, first-and-second-degree burns, foot ulcers and open cuts.

Collagen dressings come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they will often require a secondary dressing. That’s because many of the pads, like KCI’s Promogran Matrix or the Endoform Dermal Template, are non-adherent and biodegradable. Held in place by a secondary securement, they work by transforming into a conformable gel after coming into contact with the wound, eventually dissolving over time. This helps absorb exudate and releases the proteins so they can do their work.

Collagen also comes in the form of powder or gel, which work in a similar way, but may be more appropriate to apply depending on the location, size or thickness of the wound. Always consult a medical professional when determining which combination of collagen and secondary dressing will work best for your wound.

Where They Won’t Work

As with other dressings, collagen is not a fix-all. It is known to be relatively ineffective for third-degree burns and wounds that are covered in dry eschar.

They also may not work for some individuals. If you have a physical sensitivity to bovine, porcine or avian-derived substances, collagen may not be for you. The origin of these dressings may also be relevant to those who have religious or ethical objections to the use of any or all of these animal-derived products.

While It’s True…

…that Collagen products are typically more expensive than standard advanced dressings, the relative results for stubborn wounds are potentially priceless. If you think the biomedical advances seen in collagen therapy may be beneficial to you or someone you care about, consult a medical professional. And, as always, we here at Medical Monks are available to advise and guide you through the purchasing process.

Happy healing!


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