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 with a plastic film layer.
Apply to clean skin with clean hands. Pat
skin dry with a soft cotton towel. Skin
creams are sometimes used with these
dressings. Check with your nurse if you are
using skin creams.
To apply a hydrogel dressing, peel back the
plastic layer. This will expose the moist,
jelly-like substance. The gel side of the
dressing is put on the skin.
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 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, but
other types of dressings may be more
helpful. The nurses will help you with this.
Your skin needs to be clean and dry before
your radiation treatment. Do not apply any
creams 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
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:
East Clinic Radiation Oncology:
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
Your health care team may have given you this
information as part of your care. If so, please use it
and call if you have any questions. If this information
was not given to you as part of your care, please
check with your doctor. This is not medical advice.
This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of
any medical condition. Because each person’s health
needs are different, you should talk with your doctor
or others on your health care team when using this
information. If you have an emergency, please call
911. Copyright ©12/2016. University of Wisconsin
Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved.
Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6285.