Silver Dressings: Nanotechnology-Based Therapies for Skin Wound Regeneration

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Non-healing, chronic wounds such as ulcers are the result of a stop in the progression of the normal sequence of cellular events towards the restoration of the skin’s integrity. Factors delaying wound healing include diseases such as diabetes or inflammation of the blood vessels and arteries; such delay may result in weak and impaired metabolism/clearance of toxic substances and bacteria present in the wound[1]. To help heal chronic wounds, active silver nanoparticles are good candidates due to their innate anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory properties. These properties are further enhanced by a novel method of nanoscaling active silver particles, producing silver particles between 1nm – 100nm. Nanoscaling the nanoparticle allows for easier transportation across membranes and increased surface area exposure of the silver ion to the wound hence increasing the overall efficacy of the treatment[2].


In the synthesis of active silver nanoparticles, elemental silver, which is unreactive and unable to kill bacteria in its natural state, is ionized via the removal of a single electron. Next, using templates and changing reaction conditions, the silver ions can be made into different shapes and various sizes ranging from 1nm to 100nm. The resulting highly reactive silver ion nanoparticle is able to bind to bacterial cell membranes and cause disruption in the cell wall, leading to cell leakage and subsequent bacterial cell death. Silver nanoparticles that enter the bacteria can also bind to proteins and interfere with energy production, enzyme function and replication, consequently leading to bacterial death[3].



  1. Tocco I, Zavan B, Bassetto F, Vindigni V. Nanotechnology-Based Therapies for Skin Wound Regeneration. Journal of Nanomaterials [Internet]. 2012 ;2012913512564166510128678315896321158312043155536(32811115231525623642):1 - 11. Available from:
  2. Gliga AR, Skoglund S, Wallinder IOdnevall, Fadeel B, Karlsson HL. Size-dependent cytotoxicity of silver nanoparticles in human lung cells: the role of cellular uptake, agglomeration and Ag release. Particle and Fibre Toxicology [Internet]. 2014 ;11(1):11. Available from:
  3. Citekey </span><a href="" target="pmc_ext">10.1016/j.jcws.2012.05.001</a><span> not found


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Silver dressings infused with active silver nanoparticles have a wide range of uses, including for acute wounds, such as traumatic wounds, burn wounds, surgical wounds and even chronic wounds associated with systemic infection, which plagues an estimated 1.3 to 3 million US individuals at any given time[1].



  1. Tocco I, Zavan B, Bassetto F, Vindigni V. Nanotechnology-Based Therapies for Skin Wound Regeneration. Journal of Nanomaterials [Internet]. 2012 ;2012913512564166510128678315896321158312043155536(32811115231525623642):1 - 11. Available from:



Benefit Summary: 

Silver dressings have been associated with reducing wound healing time, shorter hospital stays, reduced dressing change frequency, reduced need for pain medication during dressing change, and fewer bacteria in blood due to the wound[1].

Given its numerous economic, medical, and technical advantages, active nanosilver dressings may prove more favorable and replace traditional bandages.



  1. Citekey </span><span>10.1155/2012/714134 not found


Risk Summary: 

A risk of silver nanoparticles is increased toxicity associated with decreasing size of the particles. A recent experiment noted the occurrence of silver nanoparticles of 10nm inducing the ‘Trojan horse effect’ of entering healthy, intact skin cells, and exuding toxicity from within the cell[1]. Thus it is imperative to strike a balance in scaling the silver nanoparticles to avoid harming the patient. As for the silver itself, only a very small fraction of the silver presented to a wound site is absorbed into the body and that small portion is quickly excreted via natural means, causing no harm to the body[2]. However, outside of the body lies additional risk for potential environmental contaminations, as silver nanoparticles have been shown to have adverse effects on plants and microorganisms.




  1. Citekey </span><span>10.1155/2012/714134 not found
  2. Site I-A. Silver Toxicity - How much is harmful?. [Internet]. 2015 . Available from:

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