Nurses often ask for wound care advice in using Silver Nitrate Sticks. Silver Nitrate is an inorganic compound that has been used since the 13th century. Silver Nitrate is available in the form of firm wooden sticks with 75% silver nitrate and 25% potassium nitrate impregnated on the tip.
Did you know that moistening the tip sparks a chemical reaction that burns organic matter (skin), coagulates tissue, and destroys bacteria? Silver Nitrate is used to remove hyper-granulation tissue, calloused rolled edges in wounds and works well to cauterise bleeding in wounds.
Wound Care Considerations:
Always practice within your scope of practice and within your organisational policies and procedures.
Silver Nitrate is very caustic to healthy tissue. Silver Nitrate can cause significant levels of pain to the patient. The Nurse may need to consider administering analgesia or local anaesthetic agents prior to the application of Silver Nitrate. Remember to give sufficient time for the pain medication /topical analgesia preparation to work before commencing the treatment.
When using Silver Nitrate Sticks it is important to use appropriate PPE. The product is very caustic and will burn and damage healthy tissue.Be careful not to let the activated silver nitrate drip onto healthy tissue, clothing or equipment.
Contain the silver nitrate to the area identified for treatment. It is recommended that a suitable barrier is applied to the tissue immediately adjacent to the intended application area e.g. petroleum jelly.
The Silver Nitrate is activated by gently moistening the tip of the silver nitrate stick by dipping the tip into deionised or distilled water.
When applying Silver Nitrate, the process is to rub and rotate the tip of the applicator along the tissue to be treated.
Just 2 minutes of the Silver Nitrate being in contact with the tissue to be treated is a general rule of thumb. The effectiveness of the Silver Nitrate will be influenced by the quantity of the Silver Nitrate used on the area and the duration and frequency of application The frequency and duration of treatment are directed by the Medical Officer.
Gauze moistened with saline is recommended for use on the affected area after treatment to clean the area. Do not rub the area to dry, only pat dry to avoid friction and trauma to the surrounding tissue.
An important reminder for all Nurses who use Silver Nitrate sticks on wounds is that excess silver nitrate can be neutralised with 0.9% or stronger saline and then washed away with water.
There is a free key reminder info sheet for you to download and keep in your workplace titled 8 Tips for Applying Silver Nitrate To Wounds. You can access the infosheet here>>
Nurses interested in extending their knowledge in wound management see our Nursing CPD Institute Wound Management Program – you can pick and choose modules of interest to you! Click here>>
The Nursing CPD Institute provides great information and CPD on an array of nursing topics including wound care in a range of easy learning ways including webinars and quizzes on the latest information that Nurses need to know – remember it was created by Australian Nurses for Nurses! https://www.ncpdi.com.au
Resource: Morgan N ’How to apply silver nitrate’ Wound Care Advisor March/April 2016 Volume 5, Number 2,www.Wound CareAdviser.com (Accessed 06.07.17)