Hydrocolloid Dressings: What, When, & How

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

Your 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

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.
  • 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.
  • 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 an 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:

  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 Diet

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

Applying 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.

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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