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Gelfoam Dressing Change

Gelfoam in place on wound

Gelfoam is a material used in fresh open wounds to stop bleeding. The Gelfoam is put directly on the base of the wound. It helps the blood to form a clot. Another bandage is put on top of the Gelfoam to protect it and keep it in place. 

The Gelfoam material that touches the wound base will dissolve or fall off with the scab. Any Gelfoam that’s left may be taken off during a follow-up visit.

Home care

The following guidelines will help you care for your wound at home:

Dressing care

Keep the dressing dry until the next dressing change or visit with your doctor. Bathe with your dressing out of the water, protected with a large, rubber-banded plastic bag. If the dressing becomes wet, it will need to be changed.

Changing the dressing

If you were advised to change the dressing at home:

  • Wash your hands.

  • Remove the outer bandage covering the Gelfoam.

  • The outer bandage might stick to the Gelfoam because of blood in the bandage. If that happens, run warm water over the dressing until the dried blood softens and you can peel the dressing away from the Gelfoam. Be careful not to pull the Gelfoam off the wound. 

  • If the warm water method alone does not work to loosen the bandage, you may pour hydrogen peroxide over the dressing. This will help soften the dried blood. 

  • If this doesn’t work and you are having difficulty, return to this facility and let us replace the dressing for you.

  • After you have removed the bandage, rinse the wound area with soap and water. Look at the area around the wound for redness, swelling, or pus.  

  • Put an antibiotic ointment over the Gelfoam to keep it from sticking to the new bandage. Put on another bandage or large adhesive bandage.

Other precautions

  • No tub baths or swimming until the bandage is removed and the wound healed. This will take at least 7 days.

  • If you were given an appointment for wound check or dressing change, be sure to keep this appointment.  

Follow-up care

Follow up with your health care provider. Most open wounds heal in 10 to 14 days. But even with proper treatment a wound infection may sometimes occur. Be sure to check the wound every day for any signs of infection listed below.

When to seek medical advice

Call your health care provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Pain in the wound gets worse

  • Redness, swelling, or pus coming from the wound

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your health care provider

  • Bleeding that can’t be controlled by putting direct pressure on the wound



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