Hydrocolloid dressings are basically bandages that contain a gel-forming agent such as gelatin. The gel-forming agents are typically combined with a polyurethane foam or film to create a barrier that is waterproof, oxygen-proof and bacteria-proof. These are popularly used as wound dressings in hospitals since they adhere to both dry and wet wounds.
Steps on how to use hydrocolloid dressing
- Initially clean the wound by using a gently spray of warm water and rubbing alcohol. You can also use antibacterial soap if recommended by a doctor.
- Position your hand or a warm compress over the wound. Take note that hydrocolloid dressings stick effectively at room temperature, thus the wound must be close to room temperature without getting bacteria into the wound.
- You have to apply the powder or gel if needed. A hydrocolloid powder or gel can be applied on top of the hydrocolloid sheet in order to create a stronger barrier between the sheet and the wound. Both powders and gels are useful as wound fillers if the wound is hollow. You can use a small amount of hydrocolloid gel and apply directly to the wound. Add several drops of water and combine using a sterile tool until the mixture is tooth-paste like in consistency.
- Apply the hydrocolloid sheet over the powder or gel if used. The sheets can be cut out to stick to a specific wound such as the fingers or heels or left as it is for big wounds such as those on the legs or arms. Detach the dressing from the sterile paper surrounding it. Wear sterile gloves and hold each side of the sheet. The sheet will not adhere to the gloves or other cool surfaces. Do not touch the sheet with your bare hands during the application so that it will stick properly. Take note that the dressing will adhere without water and as the body temperature increases, the sheet will simply stick to the area.
- You have to change the dressing at least every 3-5 days. You can easily tell if the dressing requires changing when the hydrocolloid sheet starts to peel up around the sides of the wound, blood can be seen peeking through the sheet or a dirt barrier forms around the bandage. Always wash the wound again before applying a new hydrocolloid dressing.
If you want to use hydrocolloid dressings during first aid care for wounds, you can easily purchase them at any local drugstore or medical supply store. Having these dressings readily available in your first aid kit can greatly help out. In case of serious injuries in which the bleeding could not be controlled, it is best to take the individual to a doctor or the emergency department at the nearest hospital.