1. Section Editor(s): Hess, Cathy Thomas BSN, RN, CWOCN

Article Content

A snapshot of the products you may use in practice.




Hydrocolloids are occlusive or semiocclusive dressings composed of materials such as gelatin, pectin, and carboxymethylcellulose. The composition of the wound contact layer may differ considerably among dressings. These dressings provide a moist healing environment that allows clean wounds to granulate and necrotic wounds to debride autolytically. Some hydrocolloids may leave a residue in the wound and others may adhere to the skin around the wound. Hydrocolloids are manufactured in a variety of shapes, sizes, adhesive properties, and forms, including wafers, pastes, and powders.



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Hydrocolloid dressings may be used as primary or secondary dressings to manage select pressure ulcers, partial- and full-thickness wounds, wounds with necrosis or slough, and wounds with light to moderate exudate.




* Impermeable to bacteria and other contaminants


* Facilitate autolytic debridement


* Self-adherent and mold well


* Provide slight to moderate absorption


* Minimize skin trauma and disruption of healing


* Allow observation of the healing process, if transparent


* May be used under compression products (compression stockings, wraps, pumps, and Unna boot)




* Not recommended for wounds with heavy exudate, sinus tracts, or infections; wounds surrounded by fragile skin; or wounds with exposed tendon or bone


* Can be opaque, making wound assessment difficult


* May be dislodged if the wound produces heavy exudate


* Provide an occlusive property that limits gas exchange between the wound and the environment


* May curl at edges


* May injure fragile skin on removal


Source: Hess CT. Clinical Guide: Wound Care. Fourth Edition. Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Corporation; 2002.