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 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.
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
- First, clean the wound site with a saline solution.
- Make sure to dry the skin around the wound with sterile gauze.
- Remove the paper backing and center the dressing over the wound, gently smoothing out the edges in a rolling motion.
- 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.
- 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 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- First, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands.
- 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.
- Gently place the dressing to cover the entire wound.
- For amorphous hydrogels, apply the dressing to cover the wound, making sure to fill in all the nooks and crannies of deep wounds.
- Use a secondary bandage or fixing tape to securely hold the dressing in place.
- It is recommended to change hydrogel dressings daily.
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.
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
- First, clean the wound site with a saline solution and pat dry.
- Moisten the dressing slightly with saline before applying to make removal easier and less painful.
- Place the alginate dressing onto the entire wound.
- Use a secondary dressing to keep the dressing securely in place.
- Replace the alginate wound care dressing when there is visible drainage on the secondary dressing.
- 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 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.
Excellent 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
- Clean the wound site with a saline solution and pat dry.
- Apply the foam dressing so that it extends at least 1 inch beyond the edges of the wound.
- 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.
- 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.
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.