Hydrocolloid dressings

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Hydrocolloid dressings offer a damp and insulating environment for healing that protects wounds while letting the bodily enzymes to start the healing process. These dressings are considered unique since they do not require daily changing and easy to apply.

Characteristics of hydrocolloid dressings?

  • Contain gel-forming agents within the interior layers of the dressing
  • Available with or without an adhesive border
  • Built with a waterproof backing, usually made from polyurethane
  • Available in different shapes and thickness
  • Specially made for hard-to-dress areas such as the heels and elbows

When should I use this dressing?

These dressings are ideal for wounds that are:

Hydrocolloid dressings
Since hydrocolloid dressings are water-resistant and flexible, they provide the ideal protective sheet for freshly healed wounds or for partially healed wounds that require protection against surface trauma.
  • Clean and not infected
  • Medium thickness
  • Dry with minimal or no drainage
  • Free from debris or dirt

Since hydrocolloid dressings are water-resistant and flexible, they provide the ideal protective sheet for freshly healed wounds or for partially healed wounds that require protection against surface trauma. In addition, the dressings mold around the wound and provide insulation so that the body does not utilize much energy to heal the wound.

When to change dressings?

Essentially, the hydrocolloid dressings last for 3-7 days. Oftentimes, the dressing starts to pull out at the edges earlier. If this occurs, it should be changed. Since the dressing keeps the wound moist and protected, the wound does not need to be changed daily.

The wounds that are covered with hydrocolloid dressings heal at a faster rate if they are not regularly exposed to the air. Nevertheless, since wounds covered by the dressings could not be easily checked, it is vital to only use the dressing on wounds that are completely clean and free from infection.

What are the benefits?

Hydrocolloid dressings can last longer than the other types of dressings, thus they are applied less frequently. They are easy to apply and available in various sizes and shapes. It can also be used with venous compression. Additionally, the dressings promote faster healing since they:

  • Do not adhere to the wound
  • Provide a moist environment that allows the bodily enzymes to heal the wound
  • Impermeable to bacteria and other contaminants
  • Able to mold around the skin and bodily movements

What are the drawbacks?

The dressing should not be used if a wound is infected or there is drainage. Other disadvantages include the following:

  • Difficult to check the wound
  • The dressing sometimes sticks to the wound and impairs the skin if removed
  • The dressing might curl or roll on the edges
  • The dressings can cause maceration or hypergranulation of the wound

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on hydrocolloid dressings is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn more about wound care using hydrocolloid dressings, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Surrey, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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