Many types of wounds can become malodorous and this can have far-reaching effects on the patient’s wellbeing. It can cause feelings of social isolation and distress, so it is important to treat this unpleasant symptom. Odour can be caused by necrotising tissue, fungating wounds and the action of bacteria within the wound. It can also be a sign of infection, which should be treated with antibiotics or topical antimicrobials such as metronidazole, or by debriding the wound. The causes of malodour need to be determined so that any infection that is causing bad smells can be tackled.
What dressings can be used to control odour?
Activated charcoal dressings are able to absorb odour from wounds. Charcoal dressings can be combined with silver and advanced wound products. The wound may also need to be cleansed or debrided. Good exudate management is important.
How do activated charcoal dressings work?
Carbon is heated in the charcoal, producing pores on its surface which attract malodorous molecules, which are then absorbed. An antibacterial (such as silver) is often used in combination.
Charcoal may be included as part of the wound contact layer, or the dressing may include an alginate or foam. It is important to have good exudate control alongside charcoal use. Activated charcoal dressings often promote a moist wound healing environment. Guard against dressings becoming too wet, as charcoal cannot control odour when wet.
Are there any precautions to using activated charcoal products?
They are not recommended for dry wounds. Caution should be taken when using alginates and charcoal in combination for fungating wounds. Antimicrobials may also be needed in this situation.
- Low adherence