Hydrocolloid dressings work well for dry wounds, like scabs. But make sure that a wound is free of any dirt or outside bacteria.

Not all wounds come from the same source, so it makes sense that some wound dressings are better for some injuries than others. Hydrocolloid dressings in particular are not well understood from the patient’s perspective, and some may not even be aware of how to use them, or what types of injuries they are best to use on. Here are some of the top reasons why clinicians choose to use a hydrocolloid dressing over other options.

Clean, partial thickness or full thickness wound

Wounds that are currently clean are great candidates for hydrocolloid dressings. Since hyrocolloids provide a barrier for the wound against outside bacteria, a clean wound will likely stay free of infection when placed under this type of bandage. However, it is important to make sure that a wound is free of any dirt or outside bacteria before adhering the hydrocolloid bandage. Because these dressings can be opaque, it can be difficult to tell if a wound is infected, and so may alert the patient or clinician to a possible problem rather than they might otherwise.

Newly-grown skin

Hydrocolloid’s unique flexible nature and water-resistant material provide a great second layer of protection over areas that have recently healed from surface trauma. Most hydrocolloid dressings are also self-adhesive and will mold to the unique surface of your wound (yet will only stick to the skin surrounding it, not the wound surface), so your body can have an optimum healing environment. Some of these dressings also provide a layer of insulation, so your body has to produce less heat (and use less energy) to heal the wound.

Little to no discharge

Hydrocolloids are best used on dry wounds, since the dressing itself provides a somewhat moist healing environment. When used on wounds that produce a lot of exudate, or a lot of fluid, will cause the dressing to come loose. However, hydrocolloid dressings need to be changed every three to seven days, so if you find your dressing is coming loose after a couple of days, this may just mean new compound should be applied.

Before you decide to use a hydrocolloid dressing for your scab or lesion, be sure to call your physician or clinician to discuss your best treatment options. Since he or she will also be able to tell if a wound has become infected, an in-person visit may be beneficial.