One of the topics that I didn’t expect to discover when I thought to look up wicking fabrics was their use in wound management. Anyone who has worn a Band-Aid has probably experienced some skin integrity issues. You have a Band-Aid on your finger and you wash your hands. When you take the Band-Aid off (assuming it survived the washing) hours later you find the skin underneath softened. It is significantly easier to injure this soft skin. Wear the bandage for long enough and you may experience more severe skin damage. This is the problem that a researcher at Stanford Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, California attempted to address.
Apparently, kids are particularly susceptible to skin and tissue damage from moisture and pressure associated with medical equipment like breathing tubes, feeding tubes, and drainage devices. Moisture builds up from perspiration and drainage, and the devices themselves exert pressure and shearing forces. Gauze or foam is typically used in each of these situations but they come with complications including difficulty in application and ineffective collection of fluids. Singh’s (2016) group tried replacing these typical dressings with a moisture wicking fabric that also contained 0.01% silver, which has an antimicrobial effect. Although the antimicrobial properties are reduced as the silver is removed through repeated washings, the fabric maintains is wicking ability.
The team found enough success that they have changed the policy at their facility and now use moisture wicking fabric to dress the area around several devices, reducing the amount of skin damage. Some of the long term positives from this change include reduced pain, reduced healing times, and improved functioning of the different tubes.
Singh, C. D. (2016). Use of moisture wicking fabric for prevention of skin damage around drains and parenteral access lines. Journal of Wound, Ostomy & Continence Nursing, 43(5), 551-553. DOI: 10.1097/WON.0000000000000249