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Collagenase ointment is a topical medication that is prescribed to accelerate the healing of ulcers or burns on the skin. It is an enzymatic debriding agent, which means that it works by breaking down dead skin tissue. This allows an antibiotic treatment to work more efficiently.
Before using the ointment, patients should carefully cleanse the affected skin with saline or as directed by their physicians. Those who are also using a topical antibiotic should apply it to the cleansed, dry skin. A doctor may instruct patients to apply the ointment to a sterile gauze pad or directly to the injured skin. The bandage can then be secured to the area and patients should wash their hands thoroughly. Patients are typically prescribed one dose daily.
Some side effects may occur with the use of collagenase ointment for burns or skin ulcers, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they become severe. Patients may experience temporary irritation or redness on the skin surrounding the area. This effect may be lessened by avoiding contact of the ointment with healthy skin. A burning sensation or pain may also occur with this drug.
More serious side effects should be reported to the doctor immediately. As the dead skin cells break up, the patient has a greater risk of developing an infection. Signs of sepsis, or a serious infection, can include rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, and weakness. It can also cause a fever with chills and unusually warm skin. Some patients may experience an allergic reaction to collagenase ointment, which may present with swelling of the facial area, problems breathing, and severe dizziness.
Special precautions should be followed while using collagenase ointment. As of 2011, the safety and efficacy of its use by children has not yet been established. Patients should avoid using any cleansing agents or any other topical applications to the injured skin unless directed to do so by their physicians. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should discuss possible risks with their doctors before using the medication.
Before using collagenase ointment, patients must disclose their other medical conditions to their doctors, as well as any other medications or supplements they are taking. It may be inappropriate for people who are generally in poor health to use the ointment. Patients should disclose their allergies, including any allergies to foods. Medications or other products that contain silver or mercury may interact with collagenase ointment.