Hydrosorb Wound Dressing – my experience…

NB: Discusses suicide immediately below the line, and has ulcer images near the end.


Yesterday I had this to say about Hydrosorb:-

I am, I confess, at a loss to know why the dressing – Hydrosorb – was so extremely painful, it’s supposed to be just an inert gel containing 60% water, which removes necrotic tissue. The mechanism by which it does this eludes me. I’ve scoured Google for anyone else having problems and have drawn a blank – which actually shouldn’t be possible. No product is perfect and there will always be a few complaints about anything, even if it’s simple user error. About Hydrosorb there is no criticism at all.

This, then, is my experience as the pain generated by Hydrosorb has been so horrendous I have been beside myself. And still am, to such a degree that last night, afraid to go to bed for fear of causing even more pain, I found myself writing this:-


Last year, provoked by uncaring medics refusing adequate analgesia, I was pushed to the brink of suicide.


And twice I backed away from the abyss.

It’s said that if one stares into the abyss long enough, the abyss stares back. Whether that’s really true, I know not but, certainly, the abyss draws one back…

Last year I backed away because, in my heart, I didn’t want to die – I wanted help, I hoped things would get better. And it would have taken more self-control than I possessed at the time for me to take that final step into the darkness.

Things haven’t got better – they are infinitely worse.

And I can feel the abyss calling me back – driven there, still, by intolerable pain.


The pain really is remorseless. Drugs can’t control it – I’m told I’m taking more morphine than many cancer patients, yet it barely mutes the pain. I’ve been told, too, by a fellow-sufferer who is also a nurse that this is pretty much the worst pain anyone can suffer – it is, as I know from personal experience, far worse than the pain of a coronary.

That describes my “normal” pain. With Hydrosorb it’s a whole new universe of suffering. Which hasn’t abated one iota since I removed it and reverted to Aquacel Ag. Where, before, the pain, though severe, was limited to the ulcers and the area around it, it now extends from my toes to my hip, punctuated by the node of blazing agony that is the ulcer itself.

I don’t know what damage Hydrosorb has done to me, or even how it’s done it as information about it is scarce, but it’s changed something for the worse, that I’m sure of.

I’ve downloaded a copy of the manufacturer’s “woundforum” document from Autumn 2008 from their website as it features a Hydrosorb trial (described as a “non-randomised, non-comparative trial in an unselected panel of 81 patients, who are characteristic for internist and general medical practices and outpatient clinics…”).

NB: Results from such a small trial are statistically inadequate. The minimum number of warm bodies required for a statistically sound trial, whether it be for shampoo or wound dressings, is 1,000.

From it I find that 5.7% of patients found the product to be poor overall (for physicians, this went up to 6.2%), while of those experiencing severe pain prior to treatment (11.1%), the percentage was reduced to 6.3%. That, potentially, is still a lot of people  with severe pain.

The document goes on to say “Hydrogel dressings hydrate and cool the wound and therefore have an analgesic effect.”.

NOT in my case. Wet dressings (in my case Aquacel Ag), can have a soothing effect but, frankly, water is not exactly renowned as an analgesic and I would seriously question that claim, unless there is an active analgesic agent in Hydrogel that I’m not seeing. There is no mention that I can see of Hydrosorb causing pain. Am I, then, unique? I rather doubt it. How many of the 6.2% of patients left with severe pain were actually worse off after Hydrogel use? The question seems not to have been asked or, if it was, nobody’s saying.

In addition – and again, in my case – wet dressings do not cause me any additional pain, even after several days, yet Hydrogel, while initially soothing for several hours, soon became unbearably painful and the appearance of my ulcer had deteriorated by the time it was removed.

This photo is from several days prior to Hydrosorb use:-


This one immediately after the removal of Hydrosorb.


To me – and others – this looks worse, especially the dark discolouration above and to the front of the wound which was previously absent.

In addition, the pain in areas away from the wound is far worse. In bed my leg is supported by a foam wedge under my thigh, this reduces the risk of putting pressure on the ulcer in my sleep. Last night I bumped the back of my calf – well away from the wound, yet the pain was instant and terrifying – but I bumped it not on the frame supporting my bedding (always a risk), but on the soft foam.

I’ve done it before, it always hurts – but NOT on this scale.

After using Hydrosorb, as applied by a community staff nurse on Friday, for less than 24 hours I was left with pain of such severity that it had me actively contemplating suicide – and that was at least 12 hours after it had been removed.

Today, 24 hours further on, and nothing has changed. I’m taking 10ml Oramorph every 4 hours in an attempt to contain the pain, and failing. I am substantially worse off now than I was previously, and I have no doubt whatsoever that Hydrosorb is the culprit.

Note re the trial referred to above: This was of Hydrosorb Comfort, the version with a self-adhesive border. I was give the basic Hydrosorb, just a sheet of gel, held in place (or not – which might account for the pain**), using a Zetuvit pad.

**But that would not account for why the pain persists.


2 thoughts on “Hydrosorb Wound Dressing – my experience…

  1. Ron, this is truly awful. There I was at 4am with simple sciatica driving me nuts, and yet what you endure leaves me speechless. Always baffles me how if an animal suffered the way yourself and many others does at the hands of humans, the perpetrator would end up in court. Im really lucky in my practice area that community nurses and doctors take time to listen and act. I have no idea if anything can be done to alleviate your pain or that rotten ulcer as I have no experience of it, but if its purely financial why you have to suffer these inadequate dressings, then the purse holders ought to be shot on sight. Regarding your heart failure, has the HF nurse given in yet and admitted you do have it, or does that fight continue?
    All the very best….

    • Cheers Dave.

      Unfortunately, all this fuckuppery is mainly money-driven. Last year they switched from the industry-standard (I was a medical buyer in a previous life), adhesive tape to one that was cheaper. Just one tiny snag – it didn’t stick. Which, of course, nobody had thought to check before signing the contract. Tbh, I can’t really blame the nurses – they get saddled with this crap by the management and are expected to make it work – and it’s the patients that suffer.

      Ulcers, apparently, come in two types. Curable in about 6 weeks or so, or incurable. I’m 9 months in – guess which one I’ve got.

      As for heart failure, the evidence is indisputable. Take yesterday. I followed the consultant’s advice to reduce my diuretics – I basically stopped peeing and my BP went through the roof. Switched to my preferred dose today, decided to measure my pee – I’m sitting next to a bucket with the better part of a gallon of the stuff and my BP is low-normal. My waistband is also a size bigger! I have ascites – an accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity – it’s there for anyone to see who cares to look (it’s so bad it’s caused an umbilical hernia). The consultant couldn’t be bothered. And if it spreads to my thoracic cavity by constricting my heart and lungs, it’ll kill me.

      Only one thing causes fluid retention on that scale – even if all the other symptoms are ignored – and that’s heart failure. Add in the symptoms – they really can’t be ignored – and there is absolutely no doubt.

      A month ago, pulmonary oedema put me in hospital, and almost did kill me. Two different people (when I got pissed off after spending 8 hours on a trolley waiting for a bed), told me I was dying, and if I went home, I would die. I had no reason to doubt them. A day later a cardiologist pitched up at my bedside to explain, at great length with lots of sketches, that I had both left and right-side heart failure (the latter was first diagnosed in 1996!), and that making long-term plans might not be a good idea (but when pressed, wouldn’t commit to how long she thought I had – judging from how fast I’m going downhill, my guess is a year, tops). So why the denial? Buggered if I know. Oh, and the cause of pulmonary oedema (which has recurred about six times since I was discharged**)? Heart failure – which is also the reason main my ulcer won’t heal.

      **This is the scariest problem I have, as it always strikes at night, is frequently fatal, and I never know, when I go to bed, if I’ll still be here come morning.

      I think I know, but it sounds paranoid. It’s payback. Two years ago the then consultant wanted to do two tests, one had a 24% risk of stroke and, given my damaged aortic valve was contra-indicated, but there was a very safe option, using and MRI scanner. I asked for that instead. I got nothing. The other – I’m a wheelie, so can’t use a treadmill – was a chemically-induced stress test – which could have killed me on the spot (as you might have gathered, I take a very dim view of dangerous diagnostic tests). So I declined. The consultant just walked away, I never heard from him again.

      So I made a formal complaint. The hospital, incompetent to the max, sent me a copy of an internal email rubbishing my claim, before it had even got to the person who was supposed to decide on it. And when they did decide, yep, all my fault for being awkward!

      And it occurs to me that if you’ve been reading my blog you might already know much of this. Ah well . . .


      PS: I might be joining you with sciatica soon – my ulcer is getting very close to the sciatic nerve, and I already have a dull ache from toes to hip. Oh joy!

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