There are various kinds of wound dressings that are effective for certain types of wounds. Hydrocolloid dressings is one of those. This type of wound dressing has been available for years and used widely for various kinds of wound. However, many people are not aware of how this type of helpful wound dressing is used. Sufficient knowledge about this dressing, in fact, is helpful to determine the clinical reasons behind the application of hydrocolloid along with what types of wound are effective to be dressed with this type of wound dressing.
The advantages of hydrocolloid dressings
A hydrocolloid dressing is a wafer type of dressing that consists of an adhesive compound filled with gel-forming agents, which is laminated onto a flexible outer layer of bandage. This type of wound dressing is self-adhere and available in various thickness and precut shapes to accommodate wounds in certain areas of the body, such as the elbows, heels, knees, and other possible areas. Since the dressing is self-adhere and thus, provide a completely protected wound bed, it is beneficial for providing a sufficiently moist healing environment, an auto debridement process, and an insulation of the wound bed.
Because of these characteristics of hydrocolloid dressing, there are some benefits from the application of the wound dressing onto a wound bed, such as:
- The wound bed is not as prone to bacteria as those wounds dressed with ordinary type of wound dressing. This is possible, in that the hydrocolloid dressings are in different shapes and sizes, which accommodate different sizes of wounds sufficiently.
- The dressing is self-adherent to the intact skin around the wound, instead of the wound itself. As a result, they mold well without increasing the risk of re-bleeding when removed from the wound bed.
- Hydrocolloid dressings are easy to apply, and they can be found as either adhesive or non-adhesive dressings.
- Promote faster healing process. As the dressing provides moist environment and is adhered to the intact skin well, commonly, it is not required to change it several times a day. Since the wound bed is not interrupted as often as with other types of wound dressings, the risk of disrupted healing can be minimized.
What is hydrocolloid dressing used for?
In relation to its characteristics, some wounds heal faster with certain types of dressings, including hydrocolloid dressings. Thus, a hydrocolloid dressing is widely used and assumed suitable for wound conditions, such as:
- Clinically non-infected wounds. Before applying any hydrocolloid dressings, it is important to observe the risk of any possible bacterial infection within the wound bed. Application of any hydrocolloid dressings is not recommended with potentially infected wound sites or in presence of any anaerobic bacterial infection, in that the application may cause trapped bacteria leading to further wound infection.
- Wounds with minimal discharge. Hydrocolloids are best with drier wounds, as the dressing itself provides what-so-called as moist environment for wound healing. When this type of dressing is used with wounds that produce a lot of discharge, it will loosen very easily, failing to give sufficient mold for the wound bed. Therefore, wounds with little to no discharge is more suitable for hydrocolloid dressings.
- Minor or full-thickness burns. Superficial to partial thickness burns can be dressed with hydrocolloid dressings, as long as they do not cause a lot of exudate, not infected, and have minor sloughing. On the other hand, burns that are caused by dirty objects or surfaces need to be observed before dressed with any hydrocolloid dressings.
- Ulcers resulted from diabetes or fungal infection. This type of wound is suitable for hydrocolloid dressing as the dressing adheres to the intact skin and helps absorb fluid discharge out of the wound bed.
- Necrotic wounds as a result of vascularization.
How to use hydrocolloid dressings
Proper application of hydrocolloid dressing is essential for proper wound enclosure that promotes faster wound healing. It is important to know what kind of wound is being dressed, how to prepare for the hydrocolloid, how to adhere it to the wound, and how to remove it properly.
Cutting and shaping hydrocolloid dressings
Although hydrocolloid dressings can be found in variety of precut sizes and shapes, you can also cut it following your wound requirement. There are some main principles on how to cut and shape the dressing properly.
- Always use sharp and sterile scissors, which is essential to prevent shredding and contamination of the dressing edges.
- Although you can shape the dressing according to your wound requirement or personal preference, cutting the edges round is recommended as this will decrease the risk of having the edges catch on clothing or bedding.
- Cut across the peelable adhesive back on dressings to make it easier to remove.
Observe the wound site and bed
Before applying hydrocolloid dressing, it is important to get the wound site observed thoroughly. Hydrocolloids are suitable for certain types of wounds, but may inhibit healing with certain others, so that it is important to examine your wound characteristics before applying the dressing onto it.
- Minor injuries, such as scrapes, abrasions, and scratches can be dresses with hydrocolloids, since it provides protective barrier to the wound site. Dry wounds that have scabs are more suitable for hydrocolloids.
- Make sure there are no signs of infection detected on the wound site. An infected wound should never be dressed with hydrocolloid, as it may trigger further infection.
Clean the wound site and wound bed
Before any application of wound dressings, including hydrocolloid, it is important to clean the wound site thoroughly.
- Clean any debris and dirt from the wound bed to inhibit any bacterial infestation.
- Do not put any hydrocolloid onto the wound bed with any existing debris or external objects before they are fully removed.
Applying hydrocolloid to minor burns and scalds
Hydrocolloid should only be applied after a series of observation, assessment, and initial treatment to the burns. This type of dressing is especially helpful for children with minor burns, since it provides additional protective barrier as well as soothing effect to the wound. Hydrocolloids are better to be applied on the third to fifth day of the wound healing, making sure the initial inflammation has phase has been passed. Precut hydrocolloids are commonly enough and suitable for minor burns and scalds and can be applied after the wound bed is cleaned thoroughly.
How to apply hydrocolloid dressings
- Wash your hands and put on disposable gloves.
- Remove any dressing that has been applied previously. Make sure you do it carefully, so that the dressing will not cause any re-bleeding to the wound site.
- If required, replace your gloves with new ones.
- Clean the wound bed and the area around it with saline solution that you can buy or make at home. Dab it onto the wound bed gently to clean any left debris from previous wound dressing.
- Pat the wound site dry with sterile gauze. Be careful not to wipe off the wound as this may aggravate the injury and cause infection.
- Apply liquid barrier film to the wounded area. For deeper wound, apply wound filler as indicated.
- Before applying hydrocolloid dressing, warm it by placing it between your palms. It can help increase adhesive ability of the dressing.
- Fold the dressing in half lengthwise and apply it from the center of the wound outward and hold the dressing in place for a few seconds until it is completely adhered to the intact skin.
- Make sure it provides sufficient mold to the wound site and there are 1-inch edges larger than the wound. This is essential for applying adhesive tape to the edge of the hydrocolloid in order to secure the dressing.
Removing hydrocolloid dressings
- Press down the skin gently and lift any area of the dressing edge. Continue lifting gently until all the adhesive edges are free. If you are using adhesive tape on the edges of the dressing, make sure you clean all the mark possibly left by the dressing.
- Gently peel away the dressing from the skin in the direction of hair growth. Hydrocolloids are commonly not adhered to the wound bed, but in case it does, it is important to peel it away very carefully to decrease the risk of bleeding and infection.
Clean the wound thoroughly and put on a new dressing if necessary.