Wound treatment

What is wound exudate?

Wound exudate is a special fluid, even called in the past “nature’s balm”

Wound exudate

is a special fluid, even called in the past “nature’s balm.” It appears in the very first phase of wound healing, right after the injury.

The exudate contains various components, including nutrients for actively metabolising cells:

The phagocytosis processes

in the wound and the enzymes that are released cleanse the wound and remove dead cells.

In a normally healing wound the amount of exudate decreases over time. In a wound whose healing is impaired, the amount of exudate does not decrease over time and managing it with dressings may be a challenge.


In order to maintain the best wound healing conditions, an optimal amount of wound exudate is needed to maintain the so-called moist healing environment.

Too much or no exudate can slow the healing process.

That is why it is important to select the right dressing for the amount of exudate in the wound. In dry wounds (without exudate) the dressing should provide moisture, and in wounds with too much exudate the dressing should absorb the excess.


a change in the colour, odour, or density of exudate may indicate a change in the condition of the wound or the appearance of an inflammatory process/infection in the wound, and it is a signal to have the wound reviewed and evaluated by a specialist.

Table 1 Type of dressing and indication for its use with different wound exudate levels.


Type of dressing Exudate level   
  none low average high
  purpose of dressing moisturise the wound maintain exudate   absorb excess exudate   absorb excess exudate
  hydrogel  √    
 polyurethane membrane  √      
 hydrocolloid    √  √  
 polyurethane dressing      √  √
 calcium alginate      √  √

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