Stratamed, from Stratpharma, is a full-contact wound dressing with proven bacteriostatic effect. Acting as an epidermal barrier, it protects wounds from environmental factors such as potentially contaminated and excessive moisture. Professor Leonardo Marini, director of the Skin Doctors' Center in Trieste, shares his view on how this treatment option can hasten patients' healing while eliminating psychological stress.
Imagine you are about to refurbish your home. The floor needs new tiles, but before that, it needs to be flattened. The builders promise a magic solution: self-levelling cement that makes every subsequent step a simple matter of course.
"Stratamed acts the same way," says dermatological expert Professor Leonardo Marini. "It's an ultra thin, transparent and bacteriostatic film of a rich polymer formula that treats and manages wounds. It is able to completely resurface any kind of wound: irregular, flat or raised."
The director of the Skin Doctors' Center in Trieste, Italy, stresses that Stratamed's efficacy lies in its specific chemically-balanced formulation. Marini suggests thinking of the monomers making up the polymers using the analogy of links in a chain. A short chain means a weak and watery film, whereas a longer chain is "as hard as wood". The optimal length allows a semi-permeable wound dressing to develop.
"Permeability is fundamental," Marini says. Traditional antibiotic ointments are occlusive - meaning the water vapour that we naturally produce through our body heat becomes trapped under the dressing, further inflaming the wound. Stratamed, he says, allows the vapour to pass through, but prevents threats from the external environment - chemical and microbial invasions - from affecting the epidermal barrier.
Stratamed has many applications, from treatment of minor abrasions and recurring blisters to use in hospital wound management, including situations of cold-steel surgery, trauma, post-resurfacing procedures and chronic wounds. "We use Stratamed immediately after we finish with our suture on the contact line between the two edges of the wound," Marini says. "This provides a nice envelope to protect any wound at its earliest, most delicate phase of repair. It builds a protected environment for healing to begin."
The flexibility and permeability of the film makes Stratamed useful in areas where traditional gel sheeting treatments are ineffective or impossible to use, such as those with high mobility (fingers), high friction (axilla), wet skin (mucosa), higher hygienic requirements (perineum), and sensitive areas with frequent and subtle movements around the eyes and mouth.
Improper wound care prolongs healing time and extends the inflammatory period, leading to side effects such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) and neoangiogenesis - the production of neovascularisation, which stimulates the excessive production of collagen, increasing the chances of raised and red hypertrophic scars.
It can also be traumatic for patients when dressings need to be removed and reapplied. This is an important consideration in the case of home care, where patients are responsible for changing their own dressings. "This apparently simple procedure is often painful," Marini says, "so patients try to avoid it, ignoring the important redressing instructions issued by doctors."
Stratamed works differently. It forms a film that dissolves or disintegrates gradually, so the wound need only be cleaned with a simple solution. "We give the patients written instructions and they repeat the dressing-change procedure at home," Marini reports. "When they come for the follow-up, we never have any surprises. The healing is almost complete, the wound is not oozing; it is nearly perfect. It really is amazing."
Application of the film is intuitive and familiar: a few drops of the transparent gel are spread over the wound. There isn't a need for complex tapes or advanced dressings, and patients can see what is happening beneath the dressing.
"If you have pain after a procedure," Marini says, "psychologically, you are not in good shape. You don't necessarily doubt the end results, but you are under stress. So imagine when doctors say, 'I'm going to put something on your skin that is going to soothe and calm down the reaction'." The Stratamed dressing has done wonders not only for the healing process, but for improving patient comfort and peace-of-mind. "The doctor or nurse immediately gets positive feedback from the patient."
The primary goal of wound care is to achieve perfect healing while minimising physical and emotional pain.
"Stratamed is like having a temporary new layer of emergency skin, working as an environmental barrier to return patients to prime health."