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Hydrocolloid Dressings : A Versatile Solution for Wound Healing

What is Hydrocolloid Dressing?

Hydrocolloid dressing and bandages are the products that help in covering and protecting wounds. The ingredients in these dressing form gel when mixed with body fluids such as pus. These create a moist protective environment for the wounds to heal.

Hydrocolloid dressings are available in various forms such as film or foam. They have adhesive on one side and can stick to the skin until it’s time to remove or change it. They have two layers. The inner layer absorbs the substance that comes out of the wound. The outer layer forms a seal or a protective covering to prevent the entry of bacteria or debris into the wound. Hydrocolloid dressing are also available in permeable and semipermeable forms. Non-permeable bandages do not allow moisture inside while semipermeable ones allow only air inside. Hydrocolloid dressings are used in the treatment of different types of wounds including pressure ulcers, venous ulcers, and diabetic foot ulcers. These dressings can be used in the combination with hydrocolloids, which are gel-forming agents and adhesive materials.

How Does Hydrocolloid Dressing Work?

Hydrocolloid refers to a substance soluble in water and can thicken liquids.

In hydrocolloid dressings, gelatin or sodium carboxymethyl cellulose is used as a hydrocolloid agent. The hydrocolloids mix with the fluid from the wound to form a gel. The gel helps in keeping the wound clean and helps with wound healing by creating a moist environment and protecting the new tissues growing in the body.(1)

Hydrocolloid dressing also helps in:(2)

  • Facilitating the breakdown of the damaged tissue
  • Encouraging the formation of connective tissue and collagen
  • Maintaining a consistent temperature around the wound
  • Maintaining an acidic pH level of the wound, reducing the bacterial growth
  • Providing a barrier against environmental bacteria thereby reducing the risk of infection

Uses of Hydrocolloid Dressing

Hydrocolloid dressings are very versatile and can be used for different types of wounds. They can be used for acute and chronic injuries and in wounds with minimal to moderate exudate.

Hydrocolloid dressing provides care for the following type of wounds:

  • Skin ulcers
  • Surface wounds
  • Donor sites
  • First and second-degree wounds
  • Abrasions and wounds from scraping

Hydrocolloid patches and bandages are frequently used as a remedy for acne. These dressings can absorb pus and speed up healing and also reduce the size of the acne.

A clinical trial compared the effect of hydrocolloid dressing with skin tapes for acne treatment. It was observed that hydrocolloid dressings showed a significant large reduction in inflammation and acne severity.(3) It was concluded that hydrocolloid dressings improved mild to moderate acne.

Other acne treatments should not be combined with hydrocolloid patches as they have an absorbent property and may absorb the ointments. The treatment can be done after removing these patches.

How to Use Hydrocolloid Patches?

  • How hydrocolloid dressing is used depends on the condition it is being used for and the type of product being used.
  • It is best to follow the instructions mentioned on the pack of dressing. Healthcare professionals can also be consulted for guidance.
  • Hydrocolloids for acne work best. They can be put near the surface of the skin, especially on the head of the lesion. Before applying it, gently cleanse the skin and pat dry with a towel.
  • Apply the patch to the spot with the sticky side down. Press it on for a few seconds. Leave it there until the patch turns white.
  • On removing the patch, the spot may look flatter and less inflamed.

Side Effects of Hydrocolloid Patches

The main drawback of hydrocolloid patches is that they are pretty expensive. The side effects of these patches are unlikely. The study was done in 2006 to check for the side effects of hydrocolloids for acne. The participants showed no side effects.(3)

There may be a possibility of skin irritation like any other topical product. In such as case the patch should be removed immediately. Hydrocolloid patches may not be suitable for wounds with heavy exudates as frequent changing of patches may be needed as they get soiled frequently.

Hydrocolloid dressing is the type of dressing that can be used in different types of wounds. They create a moist environment for the wound to heal and are very easy to use. It is important to consult a healthcare professional to determine the type of wound dressing depending on the type of wound.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 4, 2023

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