If you’ve ever seen a wound care specialist or other medical professional regarding a stubborn wound, you’ve probably heard them repeat the phrase “moist wound environment” over and over again. That’s because, in the vast majority of cases, a moist, insulated wound is going to heal much faster than a wound exposed to the open air. In fact, studies have shown that insulated wounds are likely to heal 3-5 times more quickly that those allowed to dry out. That’s because, in short, a moist wound environment eliminates the need for the body to create a natural scab, thereby allowing it to concentrate more energy toward healing.
Hydrocolloid dressings are a great solution for patients hoping to provide this ideal wound healing environment. They provide a sealed, water-and-bacteria-proof environment and use natural enzymes in the body to hydrate the wound bed.
Over the past several decades, Hydrocolloids have become one of the most common dressings used in advanced wound healing. Technically they’re available in several different styles, but here we’ll be discussing the standard, thin, silicone hydrocolloid produced by most major medical manufacturers. These little guys are so versatile, convenient and affordable that they’ve become a favorite among patients and medical professionals all over the world.
I can hear you wondering now: “What are these magical Band-Aids? How are they used? Where can I find them??’ Read on and learn…
Common hydrocolloid dressings are actually not like Band-Aids at all, although they may look that way. Typically, they are a thin, opaque strip or sheet made from silicone or polyurethane. They come in several different shapes and sizes and are usually either tan or another neutral color. One side of the sheet is coated with an adhesive compound made from gelatin or other gel-forming agents.
As mentioned above, these dressings provide a moist, controlled environment for a wound bed to heal. They are waterproof and form a solid barrier against infection, which allows for regular bathing and renders daily cleaning of the wound bed unnecessary. Hydrocolloids are not, however, particularly absorbent. As such, they’re generally appropriate for non-infected, medium-thickness wounds with little to no drainage. This can mean minor cuts and contusions, mild ulcers or even some burns. They are also commonly used as a protective layer for formerly deep wounds that are nearly healed.
In addition, there are more non-wound uses than you might think. For example, in recent years many folks have been seeing success fighting chronic acne breakouts with tiny hydrocolloid patches. In the world of ostomy care, curved, half-circle-shaped sheets have been dubbed Elastic Barrier Strips and are used to help secure the ostomy barrier to the patient’s skin.
Application is very simple with the common hydrocolloid, being that it’s typically a self-adherent strip or sheet. After thoroughly cleaning the wound, simply remove the paper backing to reveal the adherent surface, lay the center of the dressing on the wound site and gently smooth out from the center. For the thinner varieties, be sure to push out any bubbles of air that may be present. Once that’s all done, you should be left with a flexible, elastic patch that’s flush and moves with your skin.
One of the most convenient aspects of these dressings is that they only adhere to the intact skin around the wound but not the wound tissue itself. This makes for easy, painless application and removal. More importantly, it ensures no damage is done to the wound bed during dressing replacement. Generally, replacement should happen every 3-to-7 days.
How to Purchase
Why, from Medical Monks, of course! We have a large selection of hydrocolloid sheets in many different shapes and sizes from major manufacturers such as KCI and Hollister – all at (as always) industry-low prices. For those with stomas we have the aforementioned barrier strips here and here.