Hydrogel Dressings - What Made Them An Emerging Area In The 'Wound Care' Sector?

Terry Johnson posted this on May 28, 2020

The term ‘hydro’ allows even the layman to perceive that this particular dressing is concerned with considerable water content. To be precise, these dressings are 90% constituted of water. Water is suspended in a gel form saturated with hydrophilic polymers that are typically insoluble and swell up in contact with water. The first synthetic hydrogel was created of natural polymers like collagen and was used in dressing materials for healing burns.

Cases where hydrogel dressings are recommended...

• Wounds that are dry and dehydrated (it could be a partial or a full-thickness wound)

• Areas with abrasions and acute scraping

• Minor burns, say, the first-degree ones

• Radiation-exposed skin

• Necrotic wounds and wounds containing slough

Lucidly, one might consider hydrogel dressing for primary dressing purposes in a wound that drains or exudes minimally. Since they are designed to provide moisture to the wound bed, they are most suited for afflicted areas that are dry. For instance, it is one of the popular burn dressings. A burn that contains slough – when applied with a hydrogel dressing – gets moistened and undergoes debridement soon.

Why are they preferred?

Their primary virtue is that they have an exceptional cooling and soothing effect on the wound. In cases of burns where they are most popularly used, hydrogel dressings provide healing and a cooling sensation which typically relieves pain from the charred epidermal layer for at least six hours!

Since hydration is offered to the wound bed, changing the dressing no longer remains a headache as the pain and discomfort are absent. This in turn reduces the chance of infection too.

The key functions they perform on the wound bed are – creating room for autolytic debridement, epidermis repair, and dead tissue removal during the healing process.

Since they are non-adherent (with a lot of moisture content) dressing removal process is made painless and easy.

And lastly, they not only rehydrate the wound and help in its recovery but are also applicable if the wound is infected!

When should they be avoided?

While dealing with types of specialty dressings, it is important to know the contraindications of a particular dressing type. As it is evident that this dressing type has a considerable amount of water content, it is not suitable for certain wound types. They are –

• Burns with full-thickness

• The highly draining wounds (even the moderate ones should be avoided)

Other things to take care of...

The application of hydrogel dressing needs some amount of extra effort. You need to cut the dressing sheets according to the exact size of the wound. Moreover, it requires a secondary dressing cover; if not covered, it might dehydrate!

Dressings need to be changed every 1 to 4 days. During the change, the wound bed needs to be cleaned with saline (or as instructed). If this duration is extended the dressing might get over-attached to the injury site.

P.S – For radiation burns do not forget to refrigerate dressing before application. It provides for extra soothing effect and pain relief!

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