The hydrocolloid dressing is a dressing containing a gel-forming substance. And its structure is divided into three layers: the wound contact surface, polymer matrix, and backing. The main components are sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, gelatin, pectin, etc. Besides, elastomeric polymer and adhesives, etc., are also added. Therefore the dressing is absorbent, self-adhesive, and waterproof. It is transparent or translucent, biodegradable, and can be used for different wounds and anatomical parts.
When a hydrocolloid dressing comes into contact with wound exudate, it absorbs the fluid and turns it into a gel, a process known as gelation. The properties of the formed gel are determined by the production formulations of different manufacturers. The gel formed by the hydrocolloid dressings of some manufacturers has a certain cohesive force, and the gel is kept in the structure of the dressing. While the gel formed by the hydrocolloid dressings of other manufacturers is loose in texture, and the gel covers the wound and is easy to be damaged, which is easily mistaken for wound secretions or even mistaken for infection. Actually, it is not the case.
Although the hydrocolloid dressing is wet, the permeability is also outstanding, The hydrocolloid dressing in the intact state is not easily permeable to water vapor, but when the gelation process begins, the permeability of the dressing will increase. Excess moisture can be lost through the dressing in the form of water vapor, thereby enhancing the dressing's ability to absorb exudate. At the same time, hydrocolloid dressings can maintain a good moist environment. Since the backing of the hydrocolloid dressing is a semi-permeable material (usually a polyurethane film), it can effectively prevent the invasion of external bacteria and viruses, and at the same time keeps a good water resistance. Therefore, whether it is a wet wound or a dry, it is easy to stick the dressing to it.
Hydrocolloid dressings have a moderate ability to absorb exudate and are mainly used for cleaning granulation wounds with low to moderate amounts of exudate, generally superficial wounds. According to the theory of wound healing, hydrocolloid dressings are generally used in the middle and late stages of healing, that is, the granulation and the epithelial stage. At this time, the wound exudation is reduced, but a moist environment needs to be maintained. So they are the most suitable stages in which hydrocolloid dressing can be used. Hydrocolloid dressings can ensure good sealing; for dry wounds, they can soften necrotic tissue and are often used clinically to accelerate autolytic debridement of tissues, that is, use transparent hydrocolloid dressings as two-layer dressings to seal the hydrogel. After a period of time, some difficult-to-remove tissues will become easy to remove. Hydrocolloids are used for the prevention and treatment of phlebitis, which has been proved by clinical trials. Hydrocolloid dressings can also be used for fixing some devices, such as various catheters.
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