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The Best Silver Dressings for Infectious Wounds in 2021

There are many different types of silver dressings for sale from wound care manufacturers. Silver ions added to dressing pads are very common applications, followed by nitrate gels, sulfadiazine (SSD) creams, and sodium zirconium phosphate dressings. Each of these types target bacteria in wound infections. Silver ions provide a slow release of silver dependent upon the flow of exudate from the wound. Silver nitrates added to gels help to cleanse wounds. Silver Sulfadiazine added to creams helps to treat burns and infections. It is spread on the skin or wound surface to clean and remove dead tissue. Silver sodium zirconium phosphate (SPF) is a sheet-like crystal additive to wound dressings used in the early stages of wound management to kill bacteria. "The SPF dressing was associated with significantly improved measures of wound healing...."1


Types of Silver Dressings

Types of Dressings

Wound care manufacturers also add additional functions and benefits to Silver Dressings. These additional functions include easy application, sustained silver dispersal, less frequent dressing changes, exudate absorption, maintenance of a moist wound environment, and autolytic debridement. Manufacturers also add additional benefits to silver dressings by compounding with other elements like alginate, calcium, carboxymethylcellulose, charcoal, collagen, hydrocolloid, hydrogel, or sulfate to bring additional properties like more absorption, odor control, re-epithelialization, granulation, and pain reduction.

Below is a list of elements commonly added to silver dressings to form a compound dressing to append additional benefits to wound healing. This list identifies what the added element is and the benefits it provides.


Table of Silver Compound Dressings


Alginate Calcium Carboxymethyl
Charcoal Collagen Hydrocolloid Hydrogel Sulfate
natural fibers derived from seaweed ionized calcium salts water-soluble cellulose activated charcoal layer derived from bovine, equine, porcine or avian inner layer of absorption particles and outer layer of film/foam forms a seal water in a gel base ion salt with detergent and absorption characteristics
re-epithelialialization central regulator moist environment odor management cell migration moist environment monitors fluid exchange accelerates wound healing
grandulation modulates keratinocytes extracellular matrix formation absorbs bacteria stimulates fibroblasts insulates debridement stimulates keratinocytes
  triggers immune response re-epithelialialization localizes toxins stimulates keratinocytes infection protection moist environment keratinocyte migration
  faster healing water-soluble cellulose pain reduction debridement wound protection infection protection stimulates fibroblasts
  epidermal cell migration high absorption   promotes healing     surfactant
  promotes cell regeneration     tissue growth      


brand logotypes


How to Select the Best Silver Dressing

The actual needs of the patient are the most important selection criteria for choosing a silver dressing. There are numerous medical studies about silver dressing selection. Below are some noteworthy quotes from some of these studies.

When selecting a dressing containing silver, wound care goals are much the same as when not using a silver dressing: obtain and maintain a clean wound bed, absorb excess exudate, and provide moisture if the wound is dry, while also filling, covering, and protecting the wound. The silver difference is bioburden management.2

Silver remains a reasonable addition to the armamentarium against infection and has relatively few side effects. However, one should weigh the benefits of silver-containing products against the known side effects and the other options available for the intended purpose when selecting the most appropriate therapy.3

As wounds heal, the ideal dressing type may change, depending on the amount of exudate and depth of the wound; thus success in wound dressing selection hinges on recognition of the changing healing environment.... 4 [R]egular wound assessment combined with knowledge of basic wound dressing categories will provide guidance on product selection for different clinical situations and wound types.5

When selecting a dressing containing silver, wound care goals are much the same as when not using a silver dressing: obtain and maintain a clean wound bed, absorb excess exudate, and provide moisture if the wound is dry, while also filling, covering, and protecting the wound. The silver difference is bioburden management.6



Top Ten Silver Dressings Review for 2021






Silvadene is made with silver sulfadiazine to halt bacteria growth. It is manufactured as a cream that is applied to the skin. This product is a topical antimicrobial for the prevention is wound sepsis and is the top silver product by far. Silvadene is a Pfizer product available in tubes or jars.

Aquacel Ag




Aquacel Ag is available in many different options from Hydrofiber ribbons to rectangular dressing pads to border dressings. These dressings use ionic silver to reduce bacteria growth and promote faster wound healing by providing a moist wound environment. The top layer of the Aquagel Ag Foam Dressing is waterproof, allowing the user to shower and bathe.

Algicell Ag




Algicell Ag from Derma Sciences uses 1.4% silver in a sterile dressing applied directly to the wound. It offers high gelling of exudate and eliminates traces of residue on the wound. Algicell Ag Silver Calcium Alginate Dressing is a non-adhesive product.

Silvasorb Gel




Silvasorb Gel is an antimicrobial wound gel form Medline. It comes in a 3-ounce tube with ionic silver that is wound friendly. The formula is non-stinging. Made by Medline, Silvasor Gel helps maintain a moist wound environment for healing.

Mepilex Ag




Mepilex Ag is a Molnlycke product that is a foam absorption pad. It absorbs exudate and maintains a moist wound. The dressing contains a layer that seals the wound edges to keep exudate for leaking to the surrounding skin. It has a sustained antimicrobial activity for up to seven days. Mepilex Ag may be cut to fit the wound size. It works well for medium exuding burns and wounds.





Silverseal is a Derma Sciences product that is a contact layer dressing made with high-density polyester. It offers a topical antimicrobial barrier against bacteria with a sustained release of silver ions. It is non-absorbent and will not stain the surrounding tissue or skin. Silverseal is a versatile wound care product for use in most dressing applications.

Opticell Ag




Opticell Ag is an absorbent silver dressing with Chytoform technology to wick away exudate from the wound. It gently removes dead and damaged tissue and has a seven day wear time. Manufactured by Medline, Opticell Ag is a primary dressing.





Silverlon, manufactured by Argentum Medical, offers a wound contact dressings made with nylon fibers that are woven together and coated with a thin layer of silver. The dressing fabric is flexible to adapt to the curves of the wound area. These dressings can stay in place for up to 7 days. Silverlon is a primary dressing that requires a second dressing or bandage wrap to keep it in place.

Puracol Ag




Puracol Ag by Medline offers antimicrobial action through ionic silver that is non-staining. This dressing has technology that breaks down necrotic tissue and promotes healing. It is a primary dressing with 100% native collagen. This wound care product may be worn for up to 7 days. Purcol Ag is available in several versions.


Other noteworthy products that have medical studies but do not rank in the top ten include Acticoat 7 and PolyMem. "Acticoat is one of the best sheet like silver dressings, which when moistened with sterile water, releases silver ions onto the wound surface, destroying within 30 minutes both Gram positive and negative bacteria as well as Vancomycin resistant enterococci and Methicillin resistant S. aureus. 'If re-moistened, Acticoat produces a controlled release of clusters of silver cations onto the wound, for up to 3 days (if using Acticoat™) or 7 days (if using Acticoat 7)'.7

Acticoat has been shown to shorten in-patient stay compared to patients treated with SSD. The resulting decrease in bedtime and subsequently nursing time in this study means that Acticoat has been demonstrated to lower overall treatment costs compared to silver sulfadiazine in the high cost burns arena.8

PolyMem Silver QuadraFoam dressings have been used to 1) help jump-start stalled wounds, 2) manage wounds in patients prone to infection, 3) and help manage infected wounds, 4) when the underlying cause of the infection was being addressed. QuadraFoam dressings contain and attract moisture by design so they can be used on dry wounds without the need to add moisture.9











Medical Studies and Reports









Burt Cancaster, Author


Vitality Medical
7910 South 3500 East, Suite C
Salt Lake City, UT 84121
(801) 733-4449
[email protected]


Burt Cancaster Profile



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