Wound Care Dressings: Hydrogels

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.

Hydrogel Dressings

Hydrogel Sheet

Hydrogel Sheet

Description of Hydrogel Dressings: A three-dimensional network of hydrophilic polymers containing varying percentages of water, that bind great volumes of liquid due to the presence of hydrophilic residues. Hydrophilic properties enable them to absorb excess exudate while producing a moist wound environment. Formulations may vary, either glycerin based or contain 90% water in a gel base. They are available in a sheets, gel, sprays, impregnated gauze or packing strips.

Function of Hydrogel Dressings: They provide for moist wound healing, autolytic debridement and are able to absorb a minimal amount of fluid. Hydrogels add moisture to the wound bed, are non-adherent and assist with pain relief when applied cold.

When to Use Hydrogel Dressings:

* Partial and full thickness wounds that are dry or moist

* Granulating wounds

* Abrasions, partial thickness burns

* Skin reactions to radiation

* Necrotic wound and wounds covered with eschar

Hydrogel Applicator

Hydrogel Applicator

Contraindications of Hydrogel Dressings

* Full thickness burns

* Moderate to highly draining wounds

Advantages of Hydrogel Dressings:

* Cooling and soothing

* May be used on infected wounds.

* Provides hydration of eschar and nonviable tissue to promote debridement.

* Facilitates wound repair and epithelialization.

Disadvantages of Hydrogel Dressings:

* Gel sheets: Must be cut to exact size of wound to prevent maceration of surrounding tissue.

* Requires a secondary dressing cover.

* Dehydrate if not covered.

Hydrogel on a Finger

Hydrogel on a Finger


* Care must be taken to avoid macerating surrounding skin.
* Utilize for light to moderate absorption.
* Clean wound between dressing changes with normal saline or per manufacturers recommendations.
* Dressing changes every 1-4 days as needed.
* For Radiation burns: Dressing may be stored in refrigerator and applied to wound cold, to provide soothing and pain reduction

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

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