Guide to Medical Swabs

Medical swabs are essential devices in medical operations. These single-use tools are designed and fabricated for diverse applications, including wound treatment, specimen collection and even equipment cleanup.

It is important to note that there are different types of swabs available for varying uses.

Therefore, if you are on the market for swabs for your work environment, you must evaluate the available options before making your purchase.

Here is a simple guide on the different medical swabs, their benefits and uses to help you select the best products.

Calcium Alginate Tipped Swabs


Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate (Nasopharyngeal) Swab

Calcium alginate swabs have organic tips. These tips are fabricated using a material derived from seaweed. These products are primarily used for specimen collection, but they are also quite advantageous in wound treatment.

The primary benefit of using calcium alginate swabs over alternatives is the biodegradability.

The fibers on the body and around wounds from the tips will degrade naturally, eliminating residues.

Sterile Cotton Tip Swabs


Puritan Sterile Cotton Swab, Wood shaft

If you are looking for general purpose medical swabs, you should choose cotton tip products. These tools are low-cost items which are perfect for high volume needs. Moreover, the products have desirable properties such as high absorbency, safety and softness.

Cotton swabs can be used for wound treatment, cleaning and dressing application.

You can also use the swab for sample collection and DNA testing, but you should use DNA free cotton swabs for the most accurate results.

Sterile Flock Tipped Swabs


Sterile PurFlock Ultra Flocked Swab

You should choose flocked medical swabs if you are on the market for specimen collection tools. These swabs are specially manufactured to guarantee superior performance in this application.

The flocked tip of the swab is made by arranging multi-length polyester fibers with split ends uniformly around the shaft.

Unlike other swabs, the collection of specimen does not depend on absorption. Instead, the collection relies on the special design, guaranteeing the best extraction performance.

Sterile Foam Tip Swabs


Puritan Sterile Foam Swab, Large Tip

Foam tip medical swabs are fabricated using medical-grade polyurethane foam.

The high absorbency of the foam makes the product beneficial for specimen collection and testing applications.

The soft, nonabrasive nature of the foam is suitable if you are looking for swabs to clean your delicate equipment. Moreover, it is important to note that the material can withstand exposure to chemicals which compromise other types of tips.

OB/GYN & Proctoscopic Swabs


Puritan Jumbo Tip Cotton Swab, 8″, Paper Shaft

You should select special OBGYN medical swabs if you are looking to acquire products for gynecological examination and preparation.

These medical tools are designed and fabricated with oversized tips, guaranteeing efficient application.

The OBGYN swabs are sterile, highly absorbent and latex-free. When shopping for your swabs, you can purchase rayon or cotton tips. Also, consider acquiring cervical scrapers and collection devices along with your swabs for efficiency.

Polyester Tip Swabs


Puritan Sterile Polyester Swab

If your laboratory or other medical space requires swabs for biological tests, it is important to consider polyester tip swabs.

These sterile devices are made using medical-grade polyester which is compatible with most lab tests.

For instance, the polyester tip swabs can be used in PCR testing, rapid test diagnostics and general microbiological analysis. The product is also useful in specimen collection, and its exceptional sterility will prevent sample contamination.

Rayon Tip Swabs


Puritan Sterile Rayon Swab

Rayon medical swabs are ideal for use in medical applications where cotton-tipped products are unsuitable.

Their soft and absorbent nature makes these swabs perfect for specimen collection.

In general, the tips of these tools are made using wood pulp. However, the natural material is processed extensively to eliminate compounds which could contaminate the specimen. Therefore, you can collect, process and transport your samples without concern.

Wound Measurement Swab Devices


Puritan Sterile Wound Measurement DM Stick, Foam Tip

Measuring surgical wounds, lacerations and other forms of damage can expose a patient to infections. Therefore, it is important to have sterile wound measurement swabs to acquire the right readings while minimizing the risk of infections.

Wound measurement sticks and swabs are favorable because they are flexible and use a metric rule.

Also, the foam tips at the end of the shafts are perfect for undermining, packing and tunneling around the wound.

Choosing Your Medical Swabs


Puritan Cell Collection Twin Pack Regular Tip Polyester Swabs

Choosing and purchasing the right medical swabs for your needs is not an insurmountable process. You will only need to consider your potential application of the medical tool in your work environment.

It is also advisable to compare the different tip sizes and shaft lengths and designs. In addition, you must think about the suitability of the shaft material for your applications.

If you are interested in a range of disposable swabs and applicators, consult Harmony Business Supplies for more information.

Calcium Alginate Tipped Applicator Uses

Uses for Calcium Alginate Swabs

Calcium alginate swabs are ideal for use in diverse medical applications. In general, calcium alginate tipped applicators are manufactured using organic fiber. The natural fiber is derived from beneficial sources like seaweed.

Therefore, the swabs are safe for use and free from latex, which can cause allergic reactions among patients with hypersensitivity.

These products are suited for universal use in medical practices. Calcium alginate is also a biodegradable material.

This property is beneficial because there will be no foreign materials left on a patient after use for a prolonged period.

The fibers will be dissolved within a short period through contact with tissues and body fluids.

Therefore, there is no risk of an adverse reaction resulting from the accumulation of foreign matter.

The calcium alginate swabs can be bonded to wood, plastic and metal shafts for easy use.

Understanding the Potential Uses

Specimen Collection

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Transport Tube

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Transport Tube

The calcium alginate swabs are suitable for collecting samples for clinical purposes. The shape of the applicator and tip makes the applicator an ideal choice for handling cell collection in difficult areas.

For instance, the swabs can be used for culture collection from the eyes, ears and nasopharynx.

The alginate applicators are also valuable in ENT pediatrics and even veterinary medicine.

STD Screening

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Aluminum Shaft, 50/box

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Aluminum Shaft

Calcium alginate tipped applicators are ideal for use in STD screening.

Unlike other swabs, these products do not contain fatty acids.

Therefore, they are suitable for isolating cultures of disease causing microorganisms which are denatured easily.

For instance, some gonorrhea strains are inhibited by fatty acids. Also, the flexible and slim design of the applicator is suitable for urethra-genital application,

Wound Care

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Plastic shaft, 1000/cs

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Plastic shaft

It is also important to note that wounds tend to attract residues from swabs. Alginate applicators are suitable because the residue fibers will be degraded naturally.

The alginate swabs are advantageous for use in wound care.

The medical-grade products are perfect for cleaning sites of injury because the tip material is organic and safe.

Choosing Your Calcium Alginate Swabs

If you are interested in acquiring calcium alginate swabs for your medical practice, you will need to choose the most suitable products for your specific uses.

The right swabs will ensure convenience, affordability and safety for your workplace.

Here are essential considerations for swab selection.

Shaft Material

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Miniature Tip Swab
Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Aluminum Shaft
Calcium Alginate Tipped Applicator with Wooden Handle
Regular Calcium Alginate Tipped Applicator with Semi-Flexible Plastic Handle

When choosing alginate applicators for your operations, you should compare the benefits of different shaft materials for your specific uses.

In general, you can choose aluminum, wood or plastic shafts. Aluminum shafts are favorable for urethra-genital applications because they are flexible.

Wood shafts are firm and suited for wound care and sample collection. Plastic shafts are semi-flexible and are ideal for wound care.

Applicator Size

You should compare the sizes of the different alginate swabs on the market before choosing the most suitable for your needs.

The critical measurements that you should evaluate are the tip sizes and the applicator length. There is no perfect size for all uses.

For instance, larger swabs are ideal for wound care, but they are unsuitable for use in pediatric care. If you need applicators for this purpose, you must look for miniature tips.

Sterile or Non-Sterile

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Transport Tube

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Transport Tube

Medical-grade calcium alginate swabs are available in sterile and non-sterile packages. The best products are dependent on the potential use.

Sterile swabs are wrapped individually to prevent contamination from external sources.

These are naturally more favorable for medical uses. Non-sterile options are available in simple boxes.

Puritan Calcium Alginate Swabs

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Nasopharyngeal, 50/box

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Nasopharyngeal

Puritan calcium alginate tipped applicators are exceptional products which are manufactured using organic and natural fiber derived from seaweed.

The swabs are available in a range of tip sizes and shaft lengths for different uses. These swabs are FDA compliant, CE-marked and ISO-approved for medical applications.

Some of the popular products include:

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swabs, Aluminum Shaft

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Aluminum Shaft, 50/box

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Aluminum Shaft, 50/box

The sterile calcium alginate miniature swab is suited for wound care and specimen collection.

The flexible shaft is made from aluminum, making it the ideal choice for urethra-genital use.

The miniature tip is also suited for use in ophthalmology, veterinary practices and pediatric care.

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swabs, Wood Shaft

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Wood shaft, 1000/cs

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Wood shaft

The sterile calcium alginate tip swabs with wooden shafts are individually wrapped, and they are suited for wound care and sample collection.

The tip is regular-sized and the shaft is 6 inches, making the applicators versatile in medical applications.

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swabs, Plastic Shaft

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Plastic shaft, 1000/cs

Puritan Sterile Calcium Alginate Swab, Plastic shaft

This product is suited for general applications including wound care and sample collection. These swabs are economical for heavy use workplaces.

This sterile calcium alginate swab applicator comes with semi-flexible plastic shaft and a standard size swab.

If you are interested in calcium alginate tip applicators for your medical practice, you should check out the wide range of economical and versatile products available from Harmony.

Forensic Swabs For Crime Scene DNA Evidence

Advancing Swab Science

Forensic Swabbing

Throat swab used to diagnose diphtheria, England, 1901-1930
Puritan Sterile DNA Controlled Cotton Swab with Transport Tube P25-806-1PC-BT-FABUSA
Puritan Sterile DNA Controlled Cotton Swab with Transport Tube P25-806-1PC-BT-FABUSA used as a forensic swab and diagnostics.

For many years, fingerprints evidence was the standard for investigating and linking suspects to a crime scene. Rapid evaluation of forensic swabs science has shaped DNA evidence as the gold standard.

A few cells are all an investigation team needs to obtain in order to get enough DNA information to identify a suspect.

DNA analysis has been helping law enforcement agencies solve crimes for more than three decades.

DNA swabbing plays a critical role in streamlining crime scene investigation. They enable forensic professionals to extract valuable information from even the smallest samples of saliva, urine, blood, and other tissues.

However, it is important to consider that the effectiveness of forensic analysis depends on the quality of sample collection tools and methods. Low-quality sample collection, storage and transportation media can lead to potentially invalidated results.

How to swab for DNA evidence

The collection of DNA evidence is a highly effective technique used worldwide to solve investigations.

It is essential for medical examiners, forensic scientists, and crime scene investigators to master DNA specimen collection methods.

At a crime scene, both physical evidence, such as a weapon, and biological evidence such as sweat or blood could yield DNA samples. If someone touched a weapon or object, various forms of touch DNA might have been left behind.

In case the crime scene provides a clear source of DNA, the sample can be collected using proven tools like swabs. Here is a simple process to swab for DNA evidence:

Preparation

Preparation is the first step you should take to ensure effective DNA swabbing. Make sure your staff is well-trained and well-equipped. Approved personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves (and possibly even shoe covers, hair nets, and masks depending on the scene) must be used during DNA swab collection.

Proper preparation will help you avoid contamination of samples which can become a critical issue in court proceedings.

Sterile swabs, distilled water, transport media, evidence tape and flashlights are some of the essentials your evidence collection kits should contain.

Swabbing

Swabbing is a preferred DNA sample collection method over taping. There are swabbing techniques used in accordance with the sample type (touch DNA, blood, sweat).

No matter the swabbing methods you implement, change gloves and forceps after each item is necessary to prevent cross contamination. Following are the three most popular techniques:

  • Swabbing for touch DNA
  • Double Swabbing for touch DNA
  • Swabbing bodily fluids like blood

Preserving Forensic Swabs

One of the most important parts of collecting cells is ensuring that the swab is completely dry during preservation and transportation. Some of the modern collection tubes are designed to ensure both effectiveness and convenience in preserving samples.

Here are some tips that will help you conduct a reliable DNA evidence collection process:

  • Wear protective gloves before removing the swab from its wrapper
  • Touch only the handle of a forensic swab
  • Pre-moisten the swab with sterile distilled water if the sample is dry
  • Place the tip of the swab on the surface and rotate it gently to allow tissues to absorb into the fibers
  • Put the swab tip-first into appropriate packaging and allow the sample to dry

There are several environmental factors such as temperature, mold, and bacteria that can affect the DNA at the crime scene.

Follow the pre-defined DNA collection procedures even if the crime scene has been compromised.

Use DNA-Controlled Swabs

When the job is to swab for evidence at crime scenes, you can choose from a number of techniques. But when it comes to DNA evidence collection, it is recommended to use DNA-controlled or DNA-free buccal swabs.

If the swab is not free of human contaminants like DNase and DNA, it could compromise the sample, and consequently, the case.

Therefore, always use buccal or DNA swabs certified by an independent laboratory.

Following are two popular types of buccal swabs used widely at crime scenes:

Flocked Swabs

HydraFlock® Flocked Sterile Swab, Elongated Tip P25-3806-H-2
HydraFlock® Flocked Sterile Forensic Swab, Elongated Tip P25-3806-H-2

DNA-free flocked swabs are ideal when you have to deal with an extremely small sample size.

Flocked swabs are being increasingly used for forensic processes due to their unique structure which helps crime investigators collect, retain, and elute specimen better than other low-quality swabs.

A flocked swab is also handy when it comes to collecting touch DNA from fingerprints or skin cells, or residue from arso, gunshots, or explosions.

Cotton Swabs

Puritan Cap-Shure Sterile Cotton Forensic Swab: 25-806-1WC-EC

If the sample is large enough and there is no need for advanced collection and elution, a sterile cotton swab, either with polystyrene or wooden handle, will do the job.

If it is not required to transfer the sample to FTA cards, it is recommended to use cotton swabs, not only for DNA collection but also for other medical applications.

About Harmony Business Supplies

Need a forensic swab supplier? Harmony can help. Get premium quality buccal swabs ideal for collecting DNA samples from crime scenes.

Forensic professionals have been relying on Harmony for our large collection of cost-effective swabbing solutions.

Available with cotton, flocked and foam tips, our forensic swabs are certified for forensic work and tested to the most stringent standards.

Visit our online store to learn more about our collection of forensic swabs.

Prevent DNA Specimen Degradation by Choosing the Right Swabs

Prevent DNA Specimen Degradation (1)

How Choosing the Right Materials Can Prevent DNA Specimen Degradation

Whether for genetic testing or another application, preserving DNA integrity through all steps of the handling process is essential to avoiding potential errors, which can be costly and time-intensive to correct. The most effective way to proactively avoid DNA specimen degradation is selecting the right tools for your needs.

There are a few types of media transport systems available, but before you can determine the best option for your needs, it may be helpful to consider the following questions:

  1. Are you going to prepare the DNA for examination immediately after collecting it?
  2. Will the specimen be stored for use in the future, and if so, for how long?
  3. Do you expect to ship the DNA specimen to an offsite processing lab? If so, what is the anticipated time frame between collection and examination?

Most importantly, the main objective is to minimize the amount of degradation that your DNA specimen undergoes. The more time between collection and processing that passes, the more measures you’ll need to put in place to preserve the sample. Additionally, moisture is another degrading factor, so preventing increased moisture levels is  essential.

Bearing these factors in mind, here are some products you should consider n your DNA transport system:

Dry-Tip Swabs

Puritan Cap-Shure Sterile Cotton Swabs: 25-806-1WC-EC
Puritan Cap-Shure Sterile Cotton Swabs: 25-806-1WC-EC

Swabs are the first tool used in the specimen collection process, and they play an important  role in maintaining the integrity of your samples. As such, it’s important to select the right type of swab to keep DNA protected. It’s best to select a sterile dry swab, because again, keeping moisture at bay is important for safeguarding your samples.

If you’re transporting the specimen and don’t plan to use a preservative solution, it’s ideal to allow the swab to air-dry before preparing it for shipment. As long as the environment is kept at a suitable temperature and humidity level, 30 minutes of drying time should suffice.

Depending on your application, you may also wish to consider a cap to prevent DNA contamination.  Puritan offers many swabs with the the cap built in.  These swabs are called Cap-Shure® and feature an aerated tip protector over the swab tip to help the drying process and protect the specimen.

Dry Transport Tubes

Puritan Cell Collection Polyester Swab: 25-806-2PD-TT
Puritan Cell Collection Polyester Swab: 25-806-2PD-TT

Another option for keeping your swabs protected against cross-contamination is using plastic transport tubes. The swab attaches to a cap and is inserted into a tube, much like a test-tube.  A label affixed to the outside of the tube allows for data to be written about the specimen collected.  Dry Transport Swabs include their own transport tubes for safe travel and are available with different tip materials such as calcium alginate, cotton, flocked, foam, polyester, and rayon.

Whichever option you select, Harmony Business Supplies has all of the right products to help you handle and transport DNA specimens as efficiently as possible. You can view their vast array of options online now, or get in touch with a product specialist for more information.