A hydrocolloid dressing is a dressing that provides a moist and insulating healing environment. Hydrocolloid dressings protect uninfected wounds and allow the body's own enzymes to aid in the healing process. Hydrocolloid dressings are easier to apply than other dressings and generally do not require frequent changes. Most hydrocolloid dressings contain a gel-like substance that helps wounds heal. They have a waterproof (usually polyurethane) backing that adheres to the skin. Hydrocolloid dressings are available in a variety of shapes and thicknesses and can be purchased with or without an adhesive border.
Hydrocolloid dressings are ideal for wounds free of dirt and debris. They are also suitable for dry wounds that do not require drainage. But hydrocolloid dressings are not suitable for all types of wounds. In particular, these dressings should not be used on infected or wounds that require drainage. Hydrocolloid dressings are not suitable for wounds that require periodic evaluation because it may be difficult to see the wound without removing the dressing. People with fragile skin may find that the stickiness of these dressings can cause skin damage when removed.
Hydrocolloid dressings offer many benefits for wound management. By creating a moist and protected environment, these dressings promote rapid skin re-growth on the wound bed. Other key benefits include: long lasting/less frequent use; easy to apply; promotes faster healing; does not stick to wounds; resists bacteria and other contaminants; can be used for venous compression; flexible and waterproof.
Hydrocolloid dressings are easy to apply and require only standard wound care techniques. For best practice application, follow these steps when applying hydrocolloid dressings: 1. Wash hands and wear gloves; 2. Remove any previous dressings; 3. Clean wound with saline; 4. Dry wound with gauze; 5. Apply a moisture barrier or wound filler as needed; 6. Choose a hydrocolloid dressing that is approximately 3 cm larger than the wound; 7. Apply the dressing from the center of the wound; 8. Make sure the adhesive is smooth against the skin.
Hydrocolloid dressings usually last three to seven days. If the dressing starts to peel off the edges before this time, it will need to be changed. The great thing about hydrocolloid dressings is that they keep the wound moist and protected. This means that the wound does not need to be cleaned every day. In fact, wounds heal faster if you keep the dressing on and don't expose it to the air too often.