Does moist wound healing influence the rate of infection?

Br J Nurs. 2008 Nov 13-26;17(20):S4-15. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2008.17.Sup9.31659.


Background: Wound infections account for 9% of all healthcare-associated infection. Traditional wound dressings have been shown to give limited protection against microbes in comparison with modern dressings, yet they remain the main dressings of choice. While modern dressings facilitate a moist wound healing environment, which may increase the rate of healing, there is growing concern that it will increase the rate of infection.

Aim: To review the evidence relating to moist wound healing and its influence on infection rates.

Method: Fourteen studies were reviewed from 36 studies found. Methodological issues identified included: differences in the measurement of wound infection, small sample groups, inappropriate dressing selection and limited comparability between studies.

Conclusion: The rate of wound infection was not increased with the use of modern dressings when compared with traditional dressings. No statistical significance was found to suggest there were fewer infections under the modern dressings. The barrier effect of some dressings cannot be generalized to include all modern dressings.

MeSH terms

  • Bandages*
  • Humans
  • Surgical Wound Infection / diagnosis
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control
  • Surgical Wound Infection / therapy
  • Wound Healing*