Abstract This prospective randomized study has compared paraffin gauze dressing (n = 19) with silicone net dressing (Mepitel, n = 19) applied as the first layer to newly grafted burn wounds. At the first postoperative dressing visual analogue pain scores were greater in the paraffin gauze group (mean 4.4) than in the silicone net group (mean 1.4, P < 0.01). All patients in the paraffin gauze group experienced some degree of pain on dressing removal, whereas 53 per cent of patients in the silicone net group experienced no pain. Overall graft take was similar in both groups, (silicone net mean 95.7 per cent; paraffin gauze mean 94.3 per cent). Dressings were harder to remove in the paraffin gauze group as assessed by a simple scoring system (P < 0.001). In conclusion silicone net dressing confers advantages over conventional paraffin gauze, especially in reducing patient discomfort during dressing changes.