Wound care: fact and fiction about hydrocolloid dressings

J Gerontol Nurs. 1993 Jun;19(6):23-6. doi: 10.3928/0098-9134-19930601-08.


1. Hydrocolloid dressings have two layers. The inner, hydrocolloid adhesive layer has particles that absorb exudate to form a hydrated gel over the wound, creating a moist environment that promotes healing and protects new tissue. The outer layer (film, foam, or both) forms a seal to protect the wound from bacterial contamination, foreign debris, urine, and feces; it also maintains a moist environment and helps prevent shearing. 2. Hydrocolloid dressings are designed to be worn for up to a week. Infrequent dressing changes are less disruptive to the wound bed, provided that healthy skin is not compromised. Many patients--and even some medical professionals--still incorrectly believe that wounds need to be exposed to the air to heal properly. 3. Hydrocolloids are not always the dressing of choice in wounds that have limited drainage or in wounds with copious amounts of drainage. The hydrocolloid dressing is designed to manage drainage; if drainage is minimal, another approach may be more economical and comfortable for the patient.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bandages / standards*
  • Drainage
  • Humans