Hydrocolloid dressing options are not new in the world of medical supplies, but they haven't been around as long as many people assume. The first use of these dressings was in the later part of the 1970's, but their effectiveness and their benefits quickly made them a very popular option for treating wet and dry wounds, as well as providing a barrier to prevent the spread of infections that are easily transmitted through fluid contact, such as MRSA. As this is a common concern in both hospitals and home health care situations, hydrocolloid dressings need to be carefully considered on any type of applicable wound.
In general, a hydrocolloid dressing works to absorb the exudate from a wound and convert it to a gel that is either stored within the dressing, or pushed through the surface of the dressing away from the wound itself. The various types of compounds used in conjunction with gelatin in the bandage determines the viscosity of the gel created when the moisture from the wound is absorbed into the dressing. In most cases, the nature and scope of the injury determines which option of dressing is the most appropriate. For large, wet wounds, it isn't feasable to use a dressing that contains the exudates, as it would require frequent dressing changes that could interfere with healing.
Most uses for this dressing include wounds that are considered low to moderate in exudates production. They can also be used very appropriately on dry wounds as any slight moisture produced by the skin creates a gel that in turns helps to keep the skin's surface in that area soft and supple, aiding in healing. Hydrocolloid dressings can be used on everything from surface wounds and scratches through to larger areas such as bed sores and ulcers of the skin as well as skin grafts and burn treatment. With few requirements to change dressings daily, typically most hydrocolloid dressings are changed every three to five days, there is less need for intensive care, often allowing the patient to return home or to continue on with home health care services.
There are a variety of different shapes and sizes of hydrocolloid dressing which need to be carefully matched to the area that is to be covered. Generally, most companies manufacture0 small to extra large square dressings. There are also round, triangular, and rectangular options available in a variety of sizes. The gauze pad and gel area needs to be large enough to cover both the wound and a section of skin immediately adjacent to the wound to be effective in absorbing the exudates. Wounds that are too large for the dressing should be protected using another dressing method.
When using a hydrocolloid dressing, wash the area around the wound, but avoid adding moisture to the wound area itself. Allow the skin to completely air dry before applying the dressing, as wet skin around the wound will prevent the adhesive on the dressing from sticking. Also, avoid the having the dressing adhesive touch the actual wound itself, because this will cause problems when the dressing needs to be removed.
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