A review of the literature suggests that the application of self-adhesive hydrocolloid dressings, most commonly associated with the treatment of ulcerative conditions such as pressure ulcers and leg ulcers, may also offer benefits in the management of acute wounds of all types, for example decreasing healing times of donor sites by about 40% compared with traditional treatments. Healing times of superficial traumatic injuries and surgical wounds are similarly enhanced but in the treatment of burns, the principal benefit appears to be a reduction in wound pain, an effect that has also been reported in virtually all other wound types. The impermeable nature of hydrocolloids provides a protective covering to the wound, permitting washing or showering while helping to prevent the spread of pathogenic microorganisms. There also appear to be significant cost–benefits associated with the use of hydrocolloids. In recent years, hydrocolloid dressings have been replaced by other products such as foams for the treatment of more heavily exuding wounds but for more lightly exuding wounds they still offer many practical advantages and as such will undoubtedly continue to meet an important need in wound management practice.