There is a reason why most doctors choose hydrocolloid dressings to care for wounds over ordinary wound care alternatives. Hydrocolloid dressings offer a wide range of benefits over conventional wound dressings. Even though hydrocolloid dressings are created for wounds, it is not ideal to use them on all types of wounds.
Hydrocolloid dressings can be used on stage I- stage IV wounds, partial thickness, full thickness wounds, clinically infected wounds, little to no discharging wounds and newly formed skin. Understanding how hydrocolloid dressings work, how to use them and on what wounds to be used may be a faff for patients.
How hydrocolloid dressings work
A hydrocolloid dressing is a sterile, hypoallergenic, absorbent wound dressings that consist a self-adhesive layer with a polyurethane film or foam for an outer cover. These covers are coated with a gel-forming substance consisting of pectin, carboxy-methylcellulose, polymers, and other adhesives.
When hydrocolloid dressing comes into with the wound, the polymers absorb the fluid and swell, forming a gel which is confined within the structure of the material. Hydrocolloid dressings may vary in structure, elasticity and fluid retention depending on manufacturers. The polyurethane film is responsive to vapor, waterproof and acts as a barrier to bacterial and external contamination.
Hydrocolloid dressings are widely used for the following reasons:
§ The three-layer structure provides a dynamic exudate and moist healing environment that facilitates rapid wound healing.
§ Hydrocolloid dressings are breathable and skin-friendly. The porous structure facilitates the conduction of osmotic fluid and has a large absorption capacity for the liquid and quickly absorbs effusion.
§ The material is intelligently adhesive. The material is soft, comfortable and does not damage newly-formed skin. It can be peeled off and stuck on back a number of times to check on the wound without losing its stickiness.
§ Its mild tack makes it suitable for children, cancer patients and chronic, unhealed wounds. Mild tack can reduce damage and pain experienced when changing wound dressings.
Advantages of hydrocolloid dressings
§ Hydrocolloid dressings provide a moist environment that promotes wound healing.
§ They can be easily applied and removed without damaging newly formed tissue or causing pain to the patient.
§ It acts as a barrier from bacteria and external contaminants.
§ It is cost saving seeing as it can be peeled off multiple times without losing stickiness and can be kept on during cleaning because it is waterproof.
§ It can be used for prolonged periods of up to 7 days. However, changing the dressing should be as often as required.
§ It is suitable for patients with sensitive skin.
Disadvantages of hydrocolloid dressings
§ They are not intended for wounds with infections, sinus tracts or heavy exudate.
§ Can be easily dislodged in the case of heavy exudate.
§ Wound assessment is affected by opaque wounds
§ Dressing residue may stick to the wound bed and cause unpleasant odors.
§ Hypergranulation may occur as and skin around the wound may begin to macerate.
Other types of wounds hydrocolloid can be used on:
Pressure ulcers, leg ulcers, foot & diabetic ulcers, donor sites, post-op protection of the closed surgical site, minor burns, lacerations, and minor abrasions.
Always be sure you have the right kind of dressing for your wound to achieve the best results that can be got from the use of hydrocolloid dressings. Remember to follow your practitioner's and the manufacturers directions on product use, wound cleaning and application.
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