Hydrocolloid Dressings: What, When, & How

how to apply and use hydrocolloid dressings

The wound healing process is complex, and for a wound to heal correctly, it will need an optimum healing environment. This can be achieved by selecting and applying the right type of dressing. There are many wound care dressings on the market today, and one of the most commonly used is the hydrocolloid dressing. Here, we will discuss what hydrocolloid dressings are, when they are used, their advantages, and how to apply and remove them.

What are Hydrocolloid Dressings?

DuoDERM CGF Hydrocolloid dressingHydrocolloid dressings help maintain the optimal healing environment while protecting the wound, so the body’s own enzymes can get to work for proper healing. These dressings’ unique design allows it to absorb wound exudate and form a gel over the wound site. The result is a self-adhering and waterproof wound dressing that resembles an absorbent, flexible wafer. These advanced wound dressings come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. They are available with or without adhesive borders, such as the DuoDERM CGF Adhesive Border Hydrocolloid Dressing and the DuoDERM CGF Sterile Dressing.

When are Hydrocolloid Dressings Used?

Hydrocolloid dressings have the best effect on clean, uninfected wounds, have medium thickness, and have low to moderate drainage. Since these wound dressings are waterproof and flexible, they are an excellent choice to protect newly or partially healed wounds when the skin is still intact. Many times smaller hydrocolloid dressings are used for those suffering from acne. If a pimple is raised or has visible pus, the hydrocolloid dressing can absorb the fluid and flatten out the spot. Hydrocolloid dressings can decrease the severity of the pimple, its redness, oiliness, and dark pigmentation.

Using hydrocolloid dressings helps insulate the wound site allowing the body to consume less energy to heal. An important note is that these advanced wound dressings are not suitable for wounds with high exudate.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hydrocolloid Dressings

Advantages

DuoDERM hydrocolloid dressing for heels and elbowsHydrocolloid dressings can help promote faster healing of wounds for a variety of reasons.

  • They provide the optimal healing environment, keeping the wound site moist and allowing the body’s enzymes to get to work.
  • They are impermeable to protect against bacteria and other contaminants.
  • They do not stick to the wound site, but rather the healthy surrounding skin.
  • They can be left on longer than most other wound dressings, requiring less frequent changes.
  • They are flexible for the body areas that are difficult to dress, such as the heels and elbows.
  • They can be used alongside venous compression products.
  • They come in a wide selection of shapes and sizes.

Disadvantages

Although there are many benefits of using hydrocolloid dressings, it is essential to note that there are also some disadvantages.

  • They are not suitable for wounds that have heavy exudate as they may become forced out of position.
  • The excess moisture may lead to hypergranulation or maceration of the surrounding skin.
  • Some of the dressing may stick to the wound site and cause trauma to the soft healing tissue.
  • The dressing may have an unpleasant odor upon changing if some of it sticks to the healing wound.
  • These wound dressings can curl or roll up on the edges.
  • Assessing the wound site can be difficult due to the opaqueness of the hydrocolloids.

How to Apply Hydrocolloid Dressings

assortment of wound care supplies like gloves, gauze pads, and saline solutionYour doctor should provide you with detailed instructions on applying the hydrocolloid dressings that you will be using for your particular wound. However, there are some best practices to take and a general process to follow.

  1. Always wash your hands before handling wound care dressings and supplies.
  2. Put on a pair of surgical or exam gloves.
  3. If necessary, remove any current dressing and discard it. (See How to Remove Hydrocolloid Dressings below)
  4. Use an effective saline solution to clean the wound site and surrounding skin.
  5. Pat the wound site and the surrounding skin dry with sterile gauze.
  6. Remove and discard the gloves and put on a new pair.
  7. Use a quality moisture barrier to the periwound skin.
  8. Before removing the backing from the hydrocolloid dressing, hold it between your hands to warm it to adhere better.
  9. Remove the backing and center the dressing over the wound site, smoothing it from the center outward, pressing gently to improve adhesion.
  10. If the wound dressing does not have an adhesive border, secure it with tape.

How to Remove Hydrocolloid Dressings

Removing a hydrocolloid dressing from a wound site is very easy. However, taking great precautions is crucial as you do not want to cause any more damage to the affected and surrounding areas.

  1. Gently press down on the skin at the edge of one side of the adhesive border or tape to allow it to lift slightly.
  2. Using your fingers, slowly lift the edges and continue around until the adhesive is free from the skin.
  3. Gently and carefully, lift the hydrocolloid dressing away from the wound site.
  4. If you are changing the wound dressing, refer to the steps above to apply a new bandage.

Personally Delivered carries a wide variety of hydrocolloid dressings. For questions or help selecting the right wound care dressing for your wound type, our Personally Delivered Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to help.

Popular Hydrocolloid Dressings

DuoDERM Signal Hydrocolloid Sacral Dressing

DuoDERM Signal Hydrocolloid dressing

DuoDERM CGF Hydrocolloid Wound Dressing

DuoDERM CGF Sterile Hydrocolloid Dressing

DuoDERM Extra Thin Hydrocolloid Dressing

DuoDERM Extra Thin Hydrocolloid dressings

DuoDERM Signal Hydrocolloid Heel Dressing

DuoDERM hydrocolloid dressing for heels and elbows
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Wound Treatment: An In-Depth Look

a hand wrapped in white gauze

Wound treatment is vital in the healing process. Whether you have a wound that is from recent surgery, pressure or dermal ulcer, or injury, choosing the right wound care products and supplies to treat your wound can aid in the time it takes to heal. Not only will the right wound care products help promote faster healing, but they can also help reduce the chances of infection, potential scarring, and help prevent the wound from becoming chronic. Proper wound treatment is essential for healing.

Wound Healing Process

The healing process of a wound follows a series of 4 stages and if any of the stages are interrupted, the wound may fail to properly heal. The 4 stages of normal wound healing include:

  • Hemostasis Stage – In this first phase of wound healing happens as the body tries to make the wound site stable and stop any bleeding. In order for that to happen, the blood vessels at the wound site constrict to prevent blood from draining while platelets come together to form a stable clot.icon of a gash on the shin of a leg
  • Inflammatory stage –  This defensive second stage allows the body to remove any debris at the wound site and destroy bacteria. Once the blood clot is formed, blood vessels expand to allow maximum blood flow to the wound, which is the reason a wound initially may feel warm and look red. White blood cells enter the wound site and begin to destroy bacteria and other foreign bodies. As this takes place, skin cells multiply, and the tissue repair process begins as a scab is formed.
  • Proliferative stage – During the third phase, the goal is to repair the damage that has occurred. New blood vessels begin to form as collagen, a protein fiber starts to grow and fill the wound. The growth of collagen pulls the margins of the wound inward, eventually closing the wound. This new skin at the wound site is then delivered blood by the new small blood vessels that have formed.
  • Maturation stage – The final and fourth stage of the wound healing process involves gaining strength in the new tissue as the body continues to add more collagen and refine the wound site. Depending on the wound, this final process may take months or even years. Scars tend to fade with time, which is why long term wound treatment is necessary well after the wound appears to be healed.

Factors That Slow the Wound Healing Process

  • Dead Skin Cells – It is important to keep the wound site clean to remove any dead skin cells and debris that can interfere with the wound healing process.
  • Infection – If bacteria enters the wound site, infection occurs, and the body fights the infection rather than trying to heal the wound.
  • Immobility – If a person is confined to their bed because of immobility, they are more at risk for developing bedsores (also known as pressure sores) because of reduced blood circulation. Treating these types of wounds can be more difficult since they are usually exposed to constant pressure and friction.
  • Nutrition – Since the skin is the largest organ of the body, a healthy diet is important to give the body the nutrients it needs to heal the wound, such as vitamin C and protein.
  • Medical Conditions – Diabetes, anemia, and some vascular diseases can cause poor blood flow to the wound site, therefore hindering the wound healing process.
  • Age – Since everything slows down as we age, wounds tend to take longer to heal. Thinning of the skin makes it more fragile and there is also a decreased inflammatory response in elderly people.person pouring pills from a prescription bottle into their hand
  • Medications – Certain medical conditions require specific medications. Some of the medications used in the management of some medical conditions may interfere with one of the necessary stages during the wound healing process.
  • Smoking – We know that smoking isn’t good for our overall health, but it impairs the healing process by lowering the level of oxygen in the blood, which is vital for wound healing.
  • Skin Dryness – Wounds require a moist environment in order for the skin and immune cells to do their job in the wound healing process. Wounds that are dried out and exposed to air are more at risk for infection and less likely to heal. The body can focus on healing the wound rather than protecting it when it is in a moist environment.

Wound Treatment Tips & Suggestions

Wash Your Hands

Bacteria and debris contribute to infection, so washing your hands with antibacterial soap before ever touching a wound is the first and most important step in the wound treatment process.

Cleaning Your Wound

Before applying any wound care dressing, it is important to carefully clean the site. Not only will cleaning the wound help prevent infection, but it can also speed up the complete healing process. You can follow these simple steps to properly clean a wound:SAF-Cleans AF wound treatment cleanser

  1. Rinse, wash, and remove debris  A variety of wound care cleansers are available to effectively irrigate and wash away any bacteria and debris from the wound site.
  2. Gently dry and apply an antibiotic –  Pat the wound site dry and then opt for one of these wound treatment products that will help maintain the skin’s pH balance and work to prevent infection.
  3. Apply a wound care dressing – A sterile wound care dressing keeps the wound protected and are offered in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate the most irregularly shaped wounds and their locations on the body. Choosing the right wound care dressing can also determine how well your wound heals.

Replace Wound Care Dressings

A wound that is left uncovered and exposed to the air is at greater risk of infection, which can also lead to unnecessary pain because of the dried out cells on the surface. Using a sterile bandage or gauze to cover the wound after cleaning is important, but so is replacing it frequently enough. A wound care dressing should be replaced as often as required to keep the wound leakage from seeping through the dressing.

Stay Hydrated & Eat a Healthy DietPro-Stat Sugar-free Wild Cherry Punch nutritional supplement

Hydrated skin is healthy skin and that facilitates the wound healing process. Your body heals most efficiently when it feels its best, so try to maintain a healthy diet. By incorporating foods that are high in protein and Vitamin C into your diet, you may be increasing the wound healing process. There are also nutritional supplements that can be taken as an alternate option for getting those nutrients and their added benefits.

Try a Topical Wound Treatment

MEDIHONEY wound treatment gelApplying a topical wound treatment can ease some of the pain that is often associated with wounds. A wound treatment product that contains aloe such as Cardinal Health’s Amorphous Hydrogel can help soothe your symptoms. Another great topical wound treatment is the use of honey. MEDIHONEY Products assist the healing process by lowering the pH of wounds, therefore promoting better healing.

Compression Therapy

Offered as an effective way to improve blood flow, vascular compression products are often suggested for use by a physician when referring to wound treatment options. Compression therapy can work well for those with venous ulcers to limit swelling around the wound and prevent blood clots, thus speeding up the wound healing process. a roll of compression wrap for wound treatment therapy

You should always consult with your doctor before purchasing a compression product as there are varying levels of compression that could do more harm than good.

Remember, proper wound treatment is essential for healing. You should always get your doctor’s opinion to determine what the best wound treatment plan is for your specific needs. If your wound is considerably deep or shows signs of serious infection, don’t attempt your wound treatment on your own.

You can get the wound care products and supplies delivered right to your door when you place your order with us. Even better, you can save 5% on your orders when you opt-in to our automatic delivery option. There is no commitment, and you can cancel at any time. Just choose the frequency you would like your wound care products to arrive, and we will take care of the rest.

For any questions about the wide array of wound care products we offer, we are just a phone call away. One of our Personally Delivered Product Experts will be happy to speak to you.

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Wound Care Dressings: Different Types & Uses

There are so many different types of wound care dressings available on the market today and each is made to serve a variety of purposes depending on the type of wound you are caring for. It is important to choose the right type of wound dressing because that will make an impact on the healing process of the wound. Caring for a wound, no matter if it is a minor cut or a major incision, is crucial to prevent infection or further complications. Wound dressings are designed to aid the healing process by optimizing the local wound environment. We will highlight some of the most commonly used wound care dressings here, how to use them, and if any are covered by Medicare.

Types of Wound Care Dressings

Hydrocolloid Wound Care Dressings

Hydrocolloid dressings are made of hydrophilic colloidal particles like gelatin, pectin, and cellulose. They are typically used on non-infected wounds such as burns, light to moderately draining wounds, pressure ulcers, and necrotic wounds. When hydrocolloid dressings come into contact with the surface of the wound, the fluids are absorbed by these hydrophilic particles which then turn into a gel over the wound’s surface. This provides a protected and moist healing environment so new tissue can form. Box of 2-inch by 2-inch ReliaMed Hydrocolloid Dressings

Since the hydrocolloid wound care dressing adheres to the skin, no additional tape is required either. Most of these dressings have a waterproof backing to lower the risk of bacteria entering, allowing the user to proceed with routine bathing. This dressing is also biodegradable and breathable, making it a safe choice for wound care. Be sure to take a look at the variety of hydrocolloid dressings we offer on our website.

How to Use Hydrocolloid Wound Care Dressings

  1. First, clean the wound site with a saline solution.
  2. Make sure to dry the skin around the wound with sterile gauze.
  3. Remove the paper backing and center the dressing over the wound, gently smoothing out the edges in a rolling motion.
  4. Hold the dressing in place with the palm of your hand. The warmth from your hand will transfer through the dressing to help it mold to the skin.
  5. If the hydrocolloid dressing doesn’t have its own border, frame it with tape to hold the edges down and keep them from rolling.

Hydrocolloid wound care dressings should remain in place longer than other dressings in order to leave the wound undisturbed for a longer period of time. It is usually suggested to replace the dressing every 3-7 days. Always consult your doctor as they may suggest alternative steps for your specific wound type.

Hydrogel Wound Care Dressings

Hydrogel dressings are gel-based and are a great way to add moisture to dry wound beds. Because of their high glycerin and water content, they are typically used with a secondary dressing. Hydrogels help to cool down the wound and are beneficial for second degree or higher burns, pressure ulcers, and wounds that are dry or dehydrated. By keeping the wound site moist, these dressings aid in protecting from further infection, which promotes faster healing.

Hydrogel dressings are typically offered in three different forms:

  1. Amorphous Hydrogel Wound Care Dressings: A free-flowing gel that is distributed in tubes, spray bottles, or foil packets. This is an easy option to get into the cracks and crevices of puncture and deep wounds. A secondary dressing is usually used to keep this hydrogel in place.
  2. Impregnated Hydrogel Wound Care Dressings: This gel is usually saturated into nonwoven sponge ropes/strips or onto a gauze pad. These can then be packed or laid over depending on the depth of the wound. A secondary dressing is typically used to make sure everything stays in place to protect the wound.
  3. Sheet Hydrogel Wound Care Dressing: This is a gel that is held together by a thin fiber mesh and then cut to fit the wound. This type of hydrogel dressing is great for those with sensitive skin.

How to Use Hydrogel Wound Care Dressings

  1. First, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands.
  2. Remove the dressing from its packaging if it is a sheet or impregnated type. Use scissors that have been sterilized and cut the dressing to a size that will cover the entire wound site.
  3. Gently place the dressing to cover the entire wound.
  4. For amorphous hydrogels, apply the dressing to cover the wound, making sure to fill in all the nooks and crannies of deep wounds.
  5. Use a secondary bandage or fixing tape to securely hold the dressing in place.
  6. It is recommended to change hydrogel dressings daily.

Alginate Wound Care Dressings

Alginate dressings are used for wounds that have a high amount of drainage and require more absorbency. Biodegradable fibers made from acids obtained from brown seaweed, these dressings come into contact with fluid, and gel forms to protect and aid in the healing of the wound. Sometimes calcium, silver, or honey are added to the fibers for antimicrobial protection during the healing process. Box of Aquacel AG Ribbon Alginate Wound Dressing

Alginate wound care dressings are manufactured into a range of products such as ropes, ribbons, and flat sheets. For packing cavity wounds, ropes and ribbons are used, whereas surface wounds call for flat sheets. The AQUACEL Ag Ribbon Wound Dressing, the Promogran Prisma Matrix Wound Care Dressing, and the MEDIHONEY Calcium Alginate Wound Care Dressing are a few examples of these types of wound dressings.

It is not recommended to use alginate dressings on wounds that are dry, have light to no drainage, surgical wounds, or 3rd-degree burns. This dressing will not create a gel without enough fluid, so this could end up drying out the wound site even further.

How to Use Alginate Wound Care Dressings

  1. First, clean the wound site with a saline solution and pat dry.
  2. Moisten the dressing slightly with saline before applying to make removal easier and less painful.
  3. Place the alginate dressing onto the entire wound.
  4. Use a secondary dressing to keep the dressing securely in place.
  5. Replace the alginate wound care dressing when there is visible drainage on the secondary dressing.
  6. Reduce the frequency of changes as the drainage decreases and stop using the alginate dressing when the wound bed becomes dry.

Foam Wound Care Dressings

Foam wound care dressings create the optimal warm, moist environment for wound healing. Since they do not adhere to the wound, they are a more comfortable option to turn to for wounds that have moderate to high fluid drainage. Made from semipermeable polyurethane, these dressings feature small, open cells that hold fluids and a waterproof backing to keep bacteria and other contaminants out.

Box of Aquacel Square Foam DressingsExcellent for partial or full-thickness wounds, foam dressings are also beneficial for skin grafts, pressure ulcers, gastronomy tubes, and draining peristomal wounds, just to name a few. Since foam dressings have the capability to absorb large amounts of fluid, doctors often turn to this type of dressing for absorbency and patient comfort.

The AQUACEL Foam Pro Adhesive Sacral Dressing, the Cardinal Health Essentials Foam Dressing, and the Optifoam Silicone Foam Dressing are a few of the options we carry that are effective and highly reputable.

 

How to Use Foam Wound Care Dressings

  1. Clean the wound site with a saline solution and pat dry.
  2. Apply the foam dressing so that it extends at least 1 inch beyond the edges of the wound.
  3. If the foam dressing does not have an adhesive edge, apply a secondary dressing if necessary or a tape border to hold it securely in place.
  4. Because foam dressings are so absorbent, changing them every 2-4 days is recommended. If there is high drainage, changing the dressing more frequently may be needed.

Does Medicare Cover Wound Care Supplies and Services?

Wound care supplies can get expensive. Some people cannot afford all of the dressings, tape, and bandages they need to properly care for their wounds and turn to less expensive alternatives only to aggravate their wound and end up with further infection. If you qualify for Medicare, there are some important things to consider that will decide whether your wound care supplies are covered.

Choose Your Clinician Wisely

Do some research and make sure that you find out if the clinician you choose accepts Medicare. Medicare will not pay the claim if the clinician of choice is not enrolled. If the clinician is enrolled, Medicare will cover 80% of wound care supplies that are submitted and deemed medically necessary and documented as such by your clinician. You will be responsible for the remaining 20% of the costs related to these supplies.

What Supplies Are Covered?

Medically necessary surgical dressings for your treatment are covered by Medicare. However, each type of dressing has a different required copayment, which is your responsibility. Speak to your clinician about the different associated costs so you are not caught by surprise. Dressings are covered under Medicare Part B, therefore the standard deductible applies.

What About Home Care Services?

At-home care costs are cover under Medicare Part A as long as they are deemed medically necessary. Cleaning and prepping the wound site, applying dressings to a surgical wound site, and administering certain types of medicine are some of the at-home care services that can be covered.

Personally Delivered wound care products including DueDerm gel, gauze sponges, and saline solution

We have just scraped the surface as to all the available types of wound care dressings on the market. Protecting your wounds, no matter what size or shape, is an important part of the wound healing process. Always consult with your doctor if your wound is getting worse or further irritated. They may suggest an alternate solution or treatment method for you to try.

If you have any questions about the wide variety of alginate, foam, hydrogel, or hydrocolloid dressings we carry, our Personally Delivered Product Experts are just a phone call away.

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Caring for Your Skin and Wounds in the Summer

School is out, and summer is here. This is the season for outdoor activities at beaches, parks, pools, and all places near and far. For some, summer may present challenges when making sure our skin is safeguarded from bacteria, burns, and infection. Our skin is the largest organ of the body, and protecting it should be the first priority.

woman putting sunscreen on child's back at the beach and an Aquacel wound care bandage on a woman's leg in the pool

Just because you may be recovering from surgery or living with another condition like a diabetic foot ulcer doesn’t necessarily mean you must stay indoors (as long as your doctor hasn’t advised otherwise).

Since our skin is our most valuable protector, we need to be mindful of ways to protect it so we can relax and enjoy the warmer weather all season long. Here are some tips to aid in caring for your skin and wounds while delighting in those summer recreations.

summer skin care tips with the back side of a woman in a pink bikini and cream floppy hat with yellow ribbon
  • Protect Your Skin – Everyone knows the sun emits damaging UV rays. Keeping your skin protected with sunscreen will prevent harmful and sometimes painful sunburns. Products that contain zinc work great to protect the skin from these rays while helping to seal out wetness to keep skin healthy. Covering wounds with dressings is also important as this tissue is more delicate than normal skin. Unprotected wounds increase the risk of scarring.
  • Stay Hydrated – The chance of dehydration heightens in the summer months since we sweat and lose more moisture in the body. In order to repair and rebuild cells that are at a wound site, sufficient hydration is necessary to deliver fluids essential for healing.
  • Maintain Proper Nutrition – Along with proper hydration, consuming foods that are moisture-rich such as fruits and vegetables can aid in the healing of wounds and contribute to a boost in the immune system. Adding foods such as watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, and celery to your diet can be very beneficial in the wound healing process, not to mention for your overall health.
selection of McKesson, Sensi-Care, Selan, and Aquacel skin and wound care products
  • Keep a Supply of Bandages and Cleaning Solutions – Because we are typically more active in the summer months, bandages may become contaminated quickly with sweat and dirt. Frequently changing your wound dressings will help keep your wound dry and clean while supporting the healing process. Wound cleansers like saline solutions are designed to clean and irrigate wound sites and are great to keep with you when replacing dressings.
  • Reduce Germ Contact – In the event that you have an open wound and it cannot be completely covered, you may want to avoid coming into contact with open bodies of water that are perfect environments for bacteria to hang out. If you have a diabetic foot ulcer, it is important to take care of your feet. It is wise to avoid wearing flip flops or sandals, as these will allow for possible infection and/or ulceration to occur when feet are exposed to germs in the environment.

Whether you are going outside for a few minutes or headed out for a long day in the sun, caring for your skin and wounds should be a top priority.

We carry some of the highest quality skin and wound care products on the market at the best prices. Our Personal Product Advisors will help you decide what is right for your needs and make the selection process effortless so you can rest easy all summer long.

Contact us for any questions or to find the skin and wound care products that you may need. If your skin condition or wounds appear to be getting worse, make sure to get in touch with your doctor.

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