Key Considerations For Utilizing Silver Dressings

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Here one can see the application of Acticoat to cover a split thickness skin graft. One study found that Acticoat had a more rapid onset of action and better performance than three other
silver-containing dressings. (Photo Courtesy of Alan Cantor, DPM)
Key Considerations For Utilizing Silver Dressings
By Chad Friedman, DPM, Elizabeth Bass, DPM, and John Steinberg, DPM

In Conclusion
Silver dressings do not “cure” infections. However, when clinicians employ these dressings proactively, they can inhibit the progression of bacterial penetration and be effective against MRSA and most other superficial wound pathogens.1
There is a great benefit to the proper utilization of silver products in the hospital setting, especially between surgical debridements. The use of antimicrobial prophylaxis is important in reducing the wound’s microbial load as it can help facilitate wound healing.7 For example, patients who are surgically unstable or awaiting their next debridement would be excellent candidates for the use of silver products in their respective wound beds.

Dr. Friedman is a PGY-II resident at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Bass is a PGY-III resident at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Steinberg (pictured) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plastic Surgery at the Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

For related articles, see “What You Should Know About Using Silver Products In Wound Care” in the November 2004 issue of Podiatry Today.


1. Driver VR. Silver Dressings in Clinical Practice. Ostomy/Wound Management 2004;50(9A suppl): 11S-15S.
2. Ovington LG. The Truth about Silver. Ostomy/Wound Management 2004;50(9A suppl): 1S-10S.
3. Innes ME, Umraw N, Fish JS, Gomez M, Cartotto RC. The use of silver coated dressings on donor site wounds: a prospective, controlled matched pair study. Burns. 2001;6):621-627.
4. Thomas S, McCubbin P. A Comparison of the antimicrobial effects of four silver-containing dressings on three organisms. Journal of Wound Care. 2003; 12:3, 101-107.
5. Accessed January 11, 2006.
6. Wright J, Lam K, Burrell R. Wound Management in an era of increasing bacterial antibiotic resistance: A role for topical silver treatment. American Journal of Infection Control. 1998; Vol 26:6 572-577.
7. Poon VKM, Burd P. In vitro cytotoxicity of silver: implications for clinical wound care. Burns. 2004;30:140-147.
8. Argentum Medical, LLC: Silverlon FAQs. Available at: Accessed January 11, 2006.
9. Smith and Nephew:Acticoat* 7, Acticoat* Absorbent, Acticoat* Burn. Available at: http://wound.smith . Accessed January 11, 2006.
10. Smith and Nephew:Glidase:papain-urea debriding ointment. Available at: Accessed January 11, 2006.

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