Use of Hydrogel for Radiotherapy Patients
Hydrogel dressings are a special type of wound dressing. They can be used on skin that is red, tender, sore, or weepy. These dressings can sometimes relieve pain. They do so by covering exposed nerve endings. They also keep wounds moist. Moist wounds heal more quickly than dry wounds.
Hydrogel dressings are made up of a clear, gel-like substance between two layers of plastic film. Apply to clean skin with clean hands. Use a mild soap and warm water. Pat dry with a soft cotton towel. Skin creams are sometimes used with these dressings. Check with the nurse if you are using skin creams.
To apply a hydrogel dressing, peel back one of the plastic layers. This will expose the moist, jelly-like substance. The gel side of the dressing is put on the skin. Leave the other plastic layer of the dressing on the outside. This layer will stop the jelly-like substance from sticking to clothes. It will also keep the gel from drying out.
Keeping hydrogel dressings in place can be tricky. These dressings should not be held in place with tape. Putting tape on treated skin can cause further damage. The nurses will help you.
Hydrogel dressings work best on flat areas of the body that do not move much. They can remain in place for several hours, even overnight. Sometimes the skin under these dressings can make weep or drain fluids. If this happens, cotton or gauze dressings can be put on top. Most drainage will be milky colored or blood tinged. If drainage is green or yellow, it may be a sign of infection. Other signs of infection include increased redness around the wound site, pain at the wound site, and/or fever. Report any signs of infection to the nurse or doctor.
Hydrogel dressings do not work very well in skin folds or areas that move. In these cases, other types of dressings can be used. The nurses will help you with this.
Your skin needs to be clean and dry before treatment. Remove any creams that are on your skin at least two hours before your treatment time. Hydrogel dressings can go back on after your treatment. The nurses can help you with this.
If you have any questions about your skin, please call the clinic between the hours of 8:00 and 5:00 pm. Ask to speak to a nurse. The phone numbers are shown below:
UW Hospital Radiation Oncology Clinic: 608-263-8500
East Clinic Radiation Oncology: 608-265-4357
After 5pm and on weekends, your phone call will go to the paging operator. Ask for the Radiation-therapy doctor on call. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, please call 1-800-323-8942.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 01/16/2013
Copyright © 01/16/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6285
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