Woven and Non Woven Gauze Swabs – What’s the difference between the two types?
A medical gauze swab is a square of material that has a wide range of uses, from mopping up blood spills to helping to cushion a wound or applying lotion. It’s small, it can be sterile and is absorbent and its structure means that there’s little chance of the swab sticking to any wound or burn. But then there’s a choice between woven & non woven swabs – what’s that all about and does it really matter?
The short answer is, it only matters if you have a specific use in mind and are buying swabs for a use beyond general first aid; for the home or workplace first aid cabinet, a swab is a swab and as long as it’s clean and absorbent, it’s adequate for basic first aid use.
However, we’ve started the topic about woven & non woven, so we’ll go the whole way and discuss the difference between the 2 types.
WOVEN: Woven gauze is faintly reminiscent of muslin cloth. As the name indicates, there is a visible weave to the structure of the the swab and it has a looser feel than the non woven type. It is however, absorbent, and has a wicking quality that draws fluids away from the wound – Widely used in surgery and packing wounds.
It can be used to remove debris or foreign objects from a wound; For general home or workplace first aid, the coarser weave would be better used to pick up & remove bits of grit and dust from a wound.
However – and here’s the magic – they are folded into a square with no cut edges exposed. This is done so there are no loose fibres to leave behind in the wound!
However, if they are cut, lint can end up in the wound, so it’s best to use them as they come out of the packet.
They can be used to apply creams and lotions, but depending on the cream, you may find that the woven swab absorbs more of the lotion than actually ends up being rubbed on the skin!
Woven Gauze Swab – You can clearly see the wider weave and the wicking effect of the weave. They also fold into a wadding that can assist with removing debris and foreign objects from the wound. NOTE: No cut edges exposed.
NON WOVEN: A swab with the fibres packed tighter together and offers a stronger square of material. They are more absorbent than their woven cousins, so are especially good for cleaning a wound of blood before applying a secure dressing. Although absorbent, they have a less wicking effect and are very handy for applying creams & lotions as you stand a good chance of actually getting the cream onto you skin.
Non woven swabs have less lint and loose fibres and are therefore less likely to leave lint in the wound.
Non Woven Gauze Swab – You can see the tighter weave that creates a denser, stronger swab.It’s much more suitable for wiping away blood spills around the wound and absorbing blood flow. The denser weave means less lint & loose fibres.