Bandages and dressings

In one form or another, bandages and dressings have likely been in use sinceprehistoric times, with plant materials and strips of animal hide serving thepurpose initially and, later, fabrics. Early writings from Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Greece, and Rome describe wound ointments and dressings, and Homer(c. 900-800 b.c.) mentions bandages for battle wounds, as do Hippocrates (c. 460 b.c.) and the Bible. Ancient Egyptian embalmers were highly skilled in the art of bandaging. The great French surgeon Ambroise Paré (1510-1590) revived and modernized the treatment of woundsby abandoning cauterization in favor of ointments covered with carefully applied bandages. Three hundred years later, English surgeon Joseph Lister (1827-1912) pioneered the use of bandages and dressings soaked in carbolic acid asan antiseptic. Adhesive plasters, the precursors of today's adhesive bandages, were mentioned in an 1830 Philadelphia medical journal, patented in 1845 by Drs. William Shecut and Horace Day of New Jersey, and marketed as Allcock's Porous Plaster by Dr. Thomas Allcock. A German pharmacist, Paul Beiersdorf, patented a plaster-covered bandage called Hansaplast in 1882.

The adhesive bandage as we know it was the invention of Earl Dickson, an employee of the Johnson & Johnson medical supply company. Dickson's young bride continually cut and burned herself in the kitchen, and the concerned husband repeatedly bandaged her with pieces of gauze and surgical tape. Dickson saw that his wife needed a prepared supply of these dressings she could apply herself, and he began experimenting. He laid out a strip of Johnson & Johnson's surgical tape sticky side up on a table and placed a folded-up gauze pad in the middle of the tape. To keep the gauze clean and the tape sticky, Dickson covered the strip with crinoline. Mrs. Dickson appreciated her husband'sinvention, and so did Dickson's coworkers and bosses. Johnson & Johnsonquickly put the bandages on the market, and, in l920, they became Band-Aids,a name suggested by a Johnson & Johnson mill superintendent, W. Johnson.

A modern wound care dressing widely used in health care facilities has no absorbent pad beneath it's adhesive surface yet does not adhere to the wound. "SureSkin" is very thin, transparent hydrocolloid dressing in which absorbent materials are built into the adhesive materials. The dressing absorbs excretion from the wound, forming a gel which creates a healing environment for tissue regeneration, and its transparency allows monitoring of the wound without removal. The dressing can remain in place for long periods and, although absorbent and allows penetration of oxygen and water vapor, its protectivepolyurethane film protects against external bacteria and water, so patients can wear it in the shower or bath without the wound getting wet.

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