Wet-to-dry dressings are used if the wound is infected or if it is not stitched closed. Wet dressings (gauze that is usually saline soaked) are put inside the wound, and dry dressings are put on top of the wound to prevent drying and contamination. When the wet dressing dries, it sticks to the debris in the wound. When the dressing is pulled off, it cleans out the wound. In this way, wet-to-dry dressings can be used to help promote wound healing because they:


support autolytic debridement (the body’s own capacity to lyse and dissolve necrotic tissue), absorb exudate, and trap bacteria in the gauze.

Moist environments have been proven to aid in:

  • Reepithelialization
  • Wound healing
  • Shortened healing time

Wet-to-dry dressings:

  • Require more intense wound care
  • Can adhere to healthy granulation tissue if dries
  • Can injure healthy epithelial cells and slow down the healing process
  • May leave lint or fiber residue in the wound.