Hydrocolloid, Foam and Absorption Dressings

  Close room door or cubicle curtains

Dressing Removal and Preparation

  1. Expose wound site, and cover patient.
  2. Cuff top of disposable waterproof bag, and place within reach of work area.
  3. Perform hand hygiene and put on clean disposable gloves. Moisture-proof gown, mask, and goggles are worn when risk of spray exists.
  4. Remove old dressing. For easier removal, pull back slowly across dressing in direction of hair growth.
  5. Dispose of soiled dressings in waterproof bag. Remove disposable gloves by pulling them inside out, and dispose of them in waterproof bag. Avoid having patient see old dressing because the sight of wound drainage may be upsetting to the patient.
  6. Prepare sterile dressing supplies.
  7. Pour saline or prescribed solution over 4 × 4 sterile gauze pads, or open spray wound cleanser.
  8. Put on gloves, sterile if required by policy.
  9. Cleanse area gently with moist 4 × 4 sterile gauze pads, swabbing exudate away from wound, or spray with wound cleanser.
  10. Thoroughly pat wound surface dry with dry 4 × 4 sterile gauze pads. Dry intact skin around the wound.
  11. Inspect wound for tissue type, color, odor, and drainage. Measure wound size and depth.
  12. Apply dressing according to manufacturers directions.

Hydrocolloid dressings

  1. Apply hydrocolloid granules or paste before wafer dressing in deeper wounds.
  2. Apply amorphous gels approximately ¼- to ½-inch thick across wound surface, or put hydrogel sheet over wound bed. Cover with secondary dressing, such as gauze, hydrocolloid, or foam.
  3. If necessary, apply tape around the edges of the hydrocolloid dressing to assist in keeping the dressing in place.

Foam dressings

  1. Know removal and application characteristics of the specific brand of foam dressing you are using.
  2. Make sure you know which side of foam dressing should be placed toward wound bed and which side should be facing away from wound bed.
  3. With some brands, dressings can be trimmed to fit wound size, whereas other brands of dressings cannot be cut.
  4. Check with manufacturer as to which types of secondary dressings to avoid when covering foam dressing; some could reduce effectiveness of foam dressing.
  5. Some brands of foam dressings need slight tension on the dressing while being applied. Some brands of foam dressings need to be covered with a secondary dressing.

Absorption or alginate dressings

  1. Fill wound cavity one-half to two-thirds full to allow for expansion with absorption.
  2. For most brands of alginate dressings, dressing can be cut or folded to fit wound. For others, it is important not to completely fill wound bed with dressing but rather to allow space for alginate dressing to expand to fill wound bed. For some brands the alginate dressing should be applied moist, and for others it should be dry. Some brands need a secondary dressing that extends at least 1¼ inches beyond wound edges.
  3. Apply secondary dressing, if needed (check manufacturer's directions).
  4. Remove sterile gloves by pulling them inside out, and discard in prepared bag.
  5. Assist patient into comfortable position.
  6. Discard soiled dressing-change materials properly. Perform hand hygiene.


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