Care for biofilm-infected wounds

Biofilm-infected wounds are characterized by the presence of living microbes that are capable of forming colonies. The biofilms are comprised of various strains of bacteria, yeasts, fungi, algae and other microbes aside from the cellular debris.

The biofilm develops once certain forms of microorganisms attach to the surface of the wounds by releasing a gum-like substance. The biofilms are capable of infecting most of the bodily tissues and can result to chronic infections and non-healing wounds.

Possible causes of biofilm-infected wounds

The microorganisms in biofilm-infected wounds attach to one another and to the wounds with strands comprised of sugary molecules.

These molecules are called as extracellular polymeric substances. Their production helps the biofilm form complex, three-dimensional structures in a few hours. These structures can be detached as clumps of cells that move and might link to another surface and further propagate.

Biofilm-infected wounds

For wound dressing, polymeric materials and alginates are utilized instead of cotton gauze.

These complex structures are resistant to the defense mechanisms of the body. Antibiotics are structured to attack bacteria and might only partly eliminate the bacteria present within the biofilm. With this in mind, biofilms are a major hindrance to the wound healing process.

Management

Various strategies are utilized to suppress the biofilm activity in a wound. The treatment for biofilm-infected wounds must only target the biofilm without involving the defense and healing mechanisms of the body.

It is simpler to manage biofilm-infected wounds than the biofilm-based systemic infections such as endocarditis or osteomyelitis.

  • Debridement – this is performed regularly to promote rapid healing. Depending on the severity of the wounds, simple tools such as curette or ultrasound are utilized to eliminate the biofilm matrix.
  • Systemic antibiotics – utilized to eliminate the biofilm microbes and prevent re-seeding of bacteria on the wound surface.
  • For wound dressing, polymeric materials and alginates are utilized instead of cotton gauze.
  • Topical agents such as silver, antibiotic creams, methylene blue can eliminate the biofilm and prevent contamination of the dressing.
  • Bacteriophages which are viruses capable of infecting bacteria are widely studied for managing biofilm. These viruses are effective in eliminating the biofilm and discovered to be safe to use among humans.
  • Placement of skin grafts or replacements on wounds must be avoided until the biofilm is completely eliminated.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on biofilm-infected wounds is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage biofilm-infected wounds and perform proper wound care, register for a first aid and CPR course with Vancouver First Aid.

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