Wound Care Dressings: Hydrocolloids

In this series, we are featuring Types of Dressings. As Wound Care Certified professionals, we should be aware of the types of wound care dressings that are available to us to treat the patients in our care. Wound Care Dressings come in various shapes, sizes and have indications for their use.

Hydrocolloid Dressings

Hydrocolloid Dressings

Hydrocolloid Dressings

Description Hydrocolloid Dressings:
Contain hydrophilic colloidal particles in an adhesive compound laminated onto a flexible water resistant outer layer. Moisture from the wound causing the wafer to form a gel over the wound. Available in various sizes, shapes, thickness, and absorption capabilities.

Function of Hydrocolloid Dressings:
Occlusive wafer dressings which cover the wound and prevent oxygen, bacteria or fluids from interacting with the wound. Promotes a moist wound environment and autolytic debridement.

When to Use Hydrocolloid Dressings:

* Intact skin or newly healed wounds as prevention

* Non-infected wounds with scant to moderate drainage

* Partial or full thickness wounds

* Dry or moist wound bed

Contraindications of Hydrocolloid Dressings:

* Full thickness burns

* Wounds with heavy drainage

* Fragile peri-wound

* Infected wounds

* Fungal lesions, herpetic lesions

* Wounds with deep tunnels, tracts and undermining

Advantages of Hydrocolloid Dressings: Adhesive and moldable, reduce pain, provide moisture barrier, provide moist wound healing, autolytic debridement and are easy to apply. It is very effective at promoting granulation and epithelialization. Good bacterial and environmental barrier.

Disadvantages of Hydrocolloid Dressings

* The dressing may dislodge with shearing or friction.

* Not recommended for infected wounds. Dislodges with heavy drainage. Odor when removed. May injure fragile skin.


* Change every 3-7 days as needed.
* Apply wafer 1-2 inches larger than wound.
* Monitor for peri-wound maceration.
* Upon removal, dressing residue may be noted on wound. (It is not necessary to remove residual.)
* Distinct odor may be noted upon dressing removal. Clean wound, before assessment.
* Use EXTREME VIGILANCE if used on diabetic feet.
* May secure edges with tape, if necessary.
* Daily dressing changes are not appropriate.
* Warm hydrocolloid sheets (e.g. between the hands) prior to application as this aids effective adhesion and makes the dressing more pliable.

For more information about wound care dressings or becoming Wound Care Certified, please visit WCEI.net

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