Revolutionary wound dressings: Painless removal with a cold pack

The dressing adheres reliably to the body temperature without restricting freedom of movement and can be removed painlessly by cooling. Credit: B. Stolz/ University of Freiburg.

Wound dressings are essential for protecting and healing wounds.

They need to cover wounds sterilized, stick well, and come off painlessly without damaging new skin.

A new breakthrough in wound care involves dressings that stick firmly to the skin at body temperature but can be removed easily and painlessly with a cold pack.

Most current wound dressings use an adhesive system that is over 100 years old. These dressings can be very painful to remove and may harm the healing skin.

For over 30 years, researchers have been looking for better adhesive materials that can stick and unstick as needed.

This is especially important for people with allergies, burn wounds, or chronic wounds like those caused by diabetes.

Researchers at the University of Freiburg have created a new polymer for wound dressings that sticks securely with temperature control but can be removed easily.

This dressing sticks firmly to the skin or wound at body temperature but doesn’t limit movement. When the dressing is cooled with a cold pack, it can be removed easily and painlessly without leaving any sticky residue.

The secret to this new dressing is its “switchable stickiness,” which comes from a crystallization process.

The research team at the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry at the University of Freiburg, led by Prof. Dr. Rolf Mülhaupt and Prof. Dr. Thorsten Steinberg, developed an adhesive made of special polymers.

These polymers have crystallizable side chains that change with temperature.

At room temperature, the adhesive is solid. At body temperature, it melts and sticks to the skin.

When cooled, the side chains crystallize, causing the adhesive to lose its stickiness and allowing the dressing to be removed without pain. This crystallization also reduces the volume of the dressing, making it easier to remove.

In practice, the dressing sticks to the skin due to body heat. When a cold pack is applied, the adhesive crystallizes and stops sticking. This means the dressing can be removed without leaving any adhesive behind and without causing any pain. The dressing is particularly suitable for burns, sensitive or allergic skin, or infected wounds. It prevents skin injuries and is ideal for large wounds or inpatient treatment.

The new dressing leaves no adhesive residue and is highly compatible with the skin. The University of Freiburg has applied for a patent for this innovative invention, promising a new, painless way to care for wounds.

This new approach to wound care ensures that the process of skin healing remains undisturbed while providing a comfortable and effective solution for those with delicate or chronic wounds. With this development, the future of wound care looks brighter and less painful.

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