Different wound types require different wound dressings and it is important to address specific wounds with specific WD’s characteristics. For instance, acute wounds could follow a normal wound healing process for two or three months, depending on the exigence of the damaged skin tissue. Chronic wounds require more serious ramifications due to the complex pathogenic factors. Hydrogel incorporated dressings have the ultimate goal of providing adequate moisture to the wound while allowing it to remain clean.
Debridement is a crucial aspect of wound management. It is pivotal to prevent infection by removing non-viable tissue and foster moist wound healing. The beneficial aspect of applying a hydrogel to a
wound with necrotic tissue and covering it with an occlusive or semi occlusive dressing comes when, after a few days, the body’s own autolytic debridement processes. Of course, time of healing might differ from case to case, but this approach not only prevents patients from adopting other debridement methods that might be intolerable and more aggressive, but also is cost-effective.
One characteristic hydrogel has is a high moisture vapor transfer rate (MVTR). This requires hydrogel to be accompanied by a secondary dressing in order to help maintain a balanced moisture environment in the wound. Foam dressings, transparent film dressings, hydrocolloids or gauze are examples of secondary dressings that are usually necessary to prevent the wound from drying out. Once the appropriate secondary dressing is combined, hydrogel can be able to remain in the wound bed for several days at a time and changing it might take 2-3 days.
Specific cases such as the diabetic foot ulcers (DFU) might benefit from the incorporation of hydrogel in their wound management. Diabetics are more likely to have infections due to impaired leukocyte function which directly affects their ability to respond to infection. About 25% of diabetics will develop at least one DFU in their lifetime. Incorporating a hydrogel in the DFU wound management, specially one with antimicrobial properties, could potentially translate into lowering the infection risk level while promoting moist wound healing at the same time.
If you are a wound care professional looking to use hydrogel dressings for a patient, never leave the wound hygiene track: cleanse, debride, mind the edges and dress the wound. When it comes to wound dressings, never lose sight of the characteristics of the wound and address specifically that wound’s needs. Every wound is different and not every product in the market might apply to every wound type. Nevertheless, hydrogel dressings play an important part in availability, are cost effective and are user friendly. By bringing moisture to a dry wound, hydrogel can be beneficial to autolytic debridement when used with an occlusive dressing and helps maintain a mo:isture balance in the wound, whether it has no or moderate exudate.
Hydrogel can be incorporated in wound dressings for chronic vascular ulcers, pressure injuries, dehisced surgical wounds, burns and traumatic wounds. For heavily draining, hydrogel dressings lack in the capacity to absorb exudates so it is important to, in those cases, consider a more absorbent product such as an alginate or hydrofiber.