How to Avoid Waste and Extend Wear of Wound Dressings

By Clare Absher RN, BSN  

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Large hydrocolloid dressing for wound

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Duoderm and other similar hydrocolloid dressings are very expensive, therefore, avoiding waste and extending wear on pressure sores and other wounds is crucial. The following tips can help you get the most out of your wound care supplies and save money as a result.

Skin Barriers

Prepping generously with protective skin barrier products such as Skin-Prep before applying hydrocolloid dressings will prolong the time between dressing changes. Skin barriers are cheap and improve skin integrity by allowing the hydrocolloid dressings to remain intact longer.

Hydrocolloid Dressings

Order larger hydrocolloid dressings such as Duoderm 4 x 4 or 6 x 6 sizes and cut them down into halves or even quarters for multiple applications to smaller pressure sores. Be sure to cut pieces big enough to cover the wound and still have a minimum of 1/2 inch extra on all sides of the wound.

Transparent Dressings / Tape

Apply transparent dressings such as Tegaderm over hydrocolloid dressings to lengthen their usage. You can also use paper tape to secure the edges of dressings.

Gauze Dressings

Sometimes your doctor will prescribe gauze dressings instead of hydrocolloid dressings. For example, wet-to-dry saline dressings are used to treat certain wounds and require frequent changes. Save money by purchasing non-sterile 4 x 4 gauze dressings in large bulk packages from an online medical supply store. You can also use feminine sanitary pads as outer dressings to cover non-sterile wounds. Be certain to keep plenty of gauze pads, gauze wraps and tape on hand to avoid the costly mistake of an emergency trip to your local pharmacy.

Non-Sterile Wound Cleaning

Hydrocolloid dressings usually require changing one or two times a week but more often if they become saturated with drainage. Clean pressure sores with basic wash cloths or dry wipes since they do not require the use of costly sterile gauze pads. Use exam gloves in 100 pack boxes rather than individually wrapped sterile gloves.

Sterile Wound Cleaning

It is important to ask your doctor whether or not to use sterile supplies and to follow directions. You do not want to cut corners on sterile wound care. For instance, surgical wounds are kept sterile to avoid infection. You can save money by purchasing bulk on the internet from a reputable supply store.

Clare Absher RN BSN

About the Author

Clare Absher is a Registered Nurse with 44 years of experience. Most of her experience is in home health serving as a caregiver, educator, patient advocate, and liaison between families and community resources. She has also worked in acute care, assisted living, and retirement settings. She is passionate about helping families care for their elderly loved ones at home.

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