Color Changing Bandages Promise Better Care for Burn Victims

When it comes to wounds and wound care, burns tend to be some of the most challenging to adequately care for. For many patients not only are burns painful but usually the large areas of exposed skin present a high risk for secondary infection. Unfortunately, it is often the frequent checking and changing of bandages that create this opportunity for burn victims to get additional infections.

Further complicating this is that being able to diagnose bacterial infections in young burn patients can be difficult because burned skin often has the same qualities as infected skin (red, inflamed, oozing). So far the only way to truly assess whether or not an infection is present is by obtaining a direct sample of the burn area regularly. This increases the possibility of infection, slows healing, causes long-term scarring and can be painful.

To minimize both the opportunity for secondary infection, medical researchers have designed a wound dressing using a special hydrogel. The hydrogel contains a fluorescent dye that releases when exposed to pathogenic organisms like E. coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and others. The dye becomes visible in about 4 hours while most current tests for infections take 48 hours.

Not only will the bandages assist with patient healing and comfort, but researchers also believe it will give caregivers valuable information about how wound infections begin. The bandages have already performed well with porcine skin models and will be tested with real-world pathogen samples in the near future. Researchers are confident that with a little more testing, this incredible innovation in patient care will keep burn victims more comfortable and on the road to a faster, infection-free recovery.

Photo by University of Bath

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