What is a Necrotic Wound?

Necrotic tissue is dead or devitalised non-viable tissue which impedes wound healing. The typical black, dry and leathery covering over the wound bed, which has been starved of oxygen through a lack of blood supply, is known as Eschar.

The presence of necrotic material within the wound can delay healing and provide an environment for infection¹.

Necrotic tissue can also:

• Harbour bacteria², increasing the risk of infection

• Cause odour, which can have a negative impact on patient quality of life

• Increase the volume of exudate being produced³

- Obscure the true condition/size of the wound (Stephen-Haynes and Callaghan, 2012)

• Act as a physical barrier to epithelial cell migration.

Treatment Aims

Necrotic tissue must be removed by debriding the wound to allow new tissue to form and cover over the wound bed, prompting granulation and to decrease wound bioburden. Find out more about the different debridement methods here.


1. NICE (2001) Technology Appraisal Guidance 24: Guidance on the use of debriding agents and specialist wound care clinics for difficult to heal surgical wounds. NICE, London.

2. AWTVNF (2013) Larval Debridement Therapy. Available at: www.welshwoundnetwork.org/files/6513/8632/3119/AWTVNFlarval_finalforweb_opt.pdf (accessed 20 October, 2014)

3. Vowden K, Vowden P (2011) Debridement Made Easy. Wounds UK Available at: http://www.wounds-uk.com/made-easy/debridement-made-easy (accessed 23 October, 2014)