Exudate Management

Exudate production is a part of the natural healing process and is caused by the activation of the inflammatory process involved with tissue damage. For superficial dermal partial thickness burns the amount of exudate is not insignificant in the first 72 hours after injury, after which exudate production reduces as the inflammatory process subsides.

Exudate needs to be careful managed to create a moisture balance at the wound interface and optimise its benefits for wound healing. Too much can cause maceration and wound breakdown and too little can inhibit natural debridement, slow epithelial migration and delay wound healing.

Exudate management is an important consideration when selecting the most appropriate dressing. It may be necessary to select a dressing which will absorb moisture from the burn, this maybe required in the first 72 hours after injury when the inflammatory process is active producing a lot of exudate (see video below). At other times it may be necessary to select a dressing which provides moisture.

Burn wounds are dynamic, changing during the stages of wound healing, and it is necessary to assess the exudate management requirements at each dressing change and adjust the dressing according to the wound needs. The dressing insitu can provide a lot of information about the moisture content of the wound. Inspect the dressing for leakage, wetness of the dressing, type of exudate and odour. This will help inform the next dressing selection.

The diagram below provides an overview of the different moisture control properties of the major non anti-microbial dressings. Review the Dressing Selection tab for more information regarding dressings.



The Alfred Hospital gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support and contribution of Skilled Medical in funding this project.  For more information on Skilled Medical, please visit www.skilledmedical.com
Supported by:

Ambulance Victoria The Alfred Victorian Adult Burn Services at The Alfred The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne