Calcium alginate is a substance formed from seaweed and used in specialized wound dressings. The purpose of calcium alginate is to combine with wound drainage to form a gel in the moist wound bed. This process helps the wound heal by limiting secretions in the wound and minimizing bacterial contamination, according to WorldWideWounds.com. Wounds that might benefit from using calcium alginate include burns and diabetic ulcers. Calcium alginate dressings may cause less pain during its removal than other dressing options. Several calcium alginate dressings exist, but they all work in similar ways.
Clean the wound with saline as directed by the physician. Remove any loose pieces of tissue in the wound bed.
Avoid using calcium alginate on wounds that are dry and do not contain drainage.
Trim the calcium alginate dressing to fit the wound. Make sure you do not apply the dressing to healthy skin surrounding the wound. Since this skin is dry, the calcium alginate may stick to the healthy skin and need scrubbing with saline to remove it during dressing changes. This scrubbing may cause mild pain or tenderness, but the calcium alginate will not damage healthy skin.
Apply the calcium alginate dressing to the wound. If the wound is deep, pack rolled gauze on top of the calcium alginate. Secure the dressing with a thick, absorbent pad and medical tape.
Leave the dressing in place for the duration ordered by the physician. Dressing changes may need to occur daily, according to Silverlon, a manufacturer of calcium alginate dressings. Change the dressing when the absorbent padding on the outside of the wound becomes saturated.
Clean the wound with normal saline and apply the calcium alginate to the wound again.