Silicone dressings

Author: Dr Ian Logan, Dermatology Specialist Registrar, Hammersmith Hospital, London, United Kingdom; Chief Editor: Dr Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, February 2016.


What is silicone?

Silicones are inert synthetic polymers made up long chains of siloxanes. These contain silicon and other elements. Silicones have many industrial uses and can vary in form from oil, to rubber and hard resins.

Why use silicone for medical dressings?

The following specific properties make silicone useful for medical dressings:


How do silicone dressings work?

Soft silicone is a particular family of solid silicone that is soft and “tacky”. The tack of soft silicone means it can form a seal around a wound by creating multiple points of adherent skin contact. This is particularly useful to patients with fragile skin (eg epidermolysis bullosa and elderly patients).

Silicone has a stable and immediate adhesive profile unlike acrylic adhesives, which progressively become more adhesive with duration of application. The “tack” of silicone dressings is retained, allowing the dressing to be reapplied multiple times without loss of adhesion.

The hydrophobic property of silicone prevents adherence to moist wound bases, so it is relatively atraumatic.

Soft silicone dressings are designed to:

  1. Be comfortable
  2. Reduce pain and trauma of epidermal stripping during dressing changes
  3. Protect skin around the wound from contact with exudate
  4. Not adhere to moist surfaces
  5. Not leave a residue following removal

What types of silicone dressings are there?

Primary wound contact layers  

Foam dressings with silicone adhesive 

Silicone gel sheets

Silicone dressing types and uses*

­Absorbent dressings

The properties of absorbent dressings such as Eclypse® adherent, Episil® absorbent include:

They are recommended for:

Foam with silicone adhesive

The properties of foam dressings such as Advazorb® border, 3M Tegaderm®, Allevyn® Gentle border include:

They are recommended for

Primary wound contact layers

The properties of dressings such as Silflex® include:

They are recommended for:

Primary dressing silicone sheets

The properties of primary dressing silicone sheets such as Molnlycke Mepiform®, Advasil® conform include:

They are used for:

Silicone gel

Silicone gels such as Silderm®, Kelocote® are:

They are also used for:

Silicone tape

Silicone tape includes Siltape®, 3M Kind® removal.

It is used to:

*For specific details of recommendations for use, consult the manufacturer’s product information.

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