Alginate is a compound that is extracted from the cell walls of brown algae. The compound is obtained as a polysaccharide, making it extremely safe for use. When alginate is combined with water, it forms a viscous gum paste that can be employed in the manufacture of various substances, such as dental impressions and other small scale items.
Alginate is a naturally gelling material due to its ability to hold between 200 and 300 times its weight in water. It is a diverse product with various applications in the pharmaceutical sector. The brown algae which is the source of alginate belongs to the phylum Phaeophyceae family.
The brown seaweed is harvested globally and is converted into sodium alginate, which is the primary raw material. Alginate is considered both edible and dermatologically safe due to its occurrence as a natural product. It has many uses in the medical field due to its ability to absorb water.
Alginate is used as an excipient in the manufacturing of various pharmaceutical products. Other items that contain alginate include cosmetics, jellies, drinks, and slimming aids. Alginate is available in powder or granular form.
How Do Alginate Dressings Work?
When an alginate dressing is placed on a wound, it appears dry. Once it has been put on the wound, the alginate dressing absorbs the excess water, becoming larger and gel-like. The alginate dressing draws in exudates and helps to clean the wound. It ensures that the wound is kept moist enough to boost the healing process.
By absorbing the excess water from the wound, the alginate dressing also prevents bacteria from invading the damaged area. Prevention of bacterial invasion lowers the risk of infection, and it promotes the growth of new skin. The process that ensures the removal of dead skin and the growth of new skin cells is also enhanced.
The growth of the new skin on the damaged area of the skin improves the healing process. Alginate dressings contain calcium, and the calcium present in the dressings is helpful in healing bleeding wounds. The calcium is known to enhance the blood clotting process, thus preventing the loss of blood through excessive bleeding. Calcium is also known to stabilize blood flow in the body.
How to Use Alginate
The process of using alginate is easy and straightforward. The first step involved is cleaning the wound or damaged area of the skin using a saline solution. After the cleaning process, the area should then be dried. The alginate dressing is then applied following the drying of the wound. It is advisable to place a secondary dressing on top of the first one to help hold it in place.
It is desirable to change the alginate dressing after every one to three days. Another indication for the removal of the alginate dressing is when the fluids start seeping from the edges. Saline solution should be used to help in damping the dressing material before it gets removed.
The dampening of the dressing helps in lowering damage to the surrounding skin. The process may also assist in relieving pain and the removal trauma. The following are tips on how to use alginate in the best way:
Select the Correct Formula
Different types of alginates are manufactured for various purposes. It is advisable to conduct some research to ensure that the right alginate is being used for a particular job. The alginate should have a sufficient working time to finish the work.
It Is Advisable to Mix a Small Test Batch First
First-time users of alginate are advised to mix a small test batch first to familiarize themselves with how it mixes.
It Is Important to Mix a Little More Than the Required Amount
The manufacturers of alginate provide a formula that can be used in determining the amount of alginate that is needed for a particular job. According to experts, it is better to have a little more alginate than to have just enough.
Weigh the Alginate Before Its Use
The ability to compress alginate powder gives it different densities at changing times. As a result of this, a volumetric method is not reliable.
A Sufficient Mixing Bucket Should Be Used
Mixing alginate in a bucket that is not big enough can be a frustrating experience. The process of mixing the alginate in a small bucket may cause slopping of water and the powder all over the floor. Experts suggest that one should use a bucket that is twice as big as the amount of water being utilized.
The Water Temperature Should Be Monitored on a Regular Basis
The setting of alginate powder depends on the temperature of the water that is being used to mix it. Alginate manufacturers have recommended a water temperature in the instructions. One should always strive to adhere to the temperature provided in the manufacturer’s instructions unless otherwise directed by a medical professional.
Some people may change the provided temperature with the intention to get more working time than the one provided at the recommended temperature. Water that is cool may shorten the setting time while warm water may lengthen the setting time of alginate.
The Water Should Be Poured Into the Powder
The alginate powder should not be poured into water. The process may form a lump that may not be dissolved even by vigorous stirring. All the water should be added to the powder at once. After the water has been poured into the powder, a thorough mixing process should be carried out.
The Alginate Should Not Be Mixed by Hand
According to professionals, alginate should never be mixed using your hands. The process will not produce an optimal product as it may end up lumpy and drippy. Items such as a kitchen whisk or a jiffy mixer can be utilized. The jiffy mixer on an electric drill can be used for large-scale production.
When to Use Alginate
Alginate dressings are primarily used for draining wounds. The dressings should not be used on wounds that have minimal drainage since this may slow the healing process. Currently, alginate dressings are commonly used for dressing cavity wounds.
Alginate dressing is a better option compared to cellulose dressings in the management of epithelizing wound. The dressing minimizes pain and trauma that may be experienced during the removal process.
According to most studies, alginate dressing is the best option when compared to others, such as paraffin gauze dressings. Other studies have also shown that alginate dressing minimizes the pain and trauma that is felt during the removal of the dressing from a post-operative wound.
Another study revealed the ability of alginates to get rid of full-thickness pressure ulcers by reducing the wound in the area.