Accidents happen all the time, which is why you should have a medicine cabinet full of bandages. You may not be a nurse or doctor, so this guide is here to break down every type of bandage on the planet.
There’s more options than just Band-Aids. Read on for the different types of bandages, the brands that make them, and the right way to cover up your boo-boos.
What Are the Different Types of Bandages?
Do you need to cover an injury? Use any of the following types of bandages for the job:
Adhesive bandages are the most common. These wound coverings stick to your skin and can be wrapped around fingers and toes. Band-Aids are the most popular brand of adhesive bandages and are even subject to genericide – the process by which a brand name is used to refer to any product/service of its kind.
Hydrocolloid bandages have an insulating, gel-forming agent and waterproof backing made from polyurethane – the same material found in squishy stress balls. These wound dressings are best for difficult areas to bandage like elbows, noses, and heels.
Tubular bandages look like a roll of bubblegum. Unwind the woven circle of fabric and use a strip to stop minor bleeding on arms and legs. You’ll find tubular bandages in many different sizes, thicknesses, and lengths.
We can thank the Boy Scouts for triangular bandages. The story goes the troops created bandages or slings for broken arms using their neck bandanas. Today, triangular bandages are much more sophisticated in design. They’re padded adhesive cloths that secure in place using safety pins.
Do you have a broken nose? You might cover that injury using a butterfly bandage. As the name suggests, this type of bandage has adhesive “wings” that secure around stitches and bumps. This style can also be used as knuckle bandages if you have cuts in that area.
Compression (Elastic Bandages)
Stretch out an elastic bandage and use it to wrap sprained ankles or wrists. These bandages are made from cloth that secures in place via Velcro. They’re designed to limit movement, so you don’t cause further strain to aching muscles.
It’s definitely useful to have gauze in your first aid kit. Why? This woven strip can be used not only to keep wound dressings in place, but it can also provide compression for stiff joints or sprains. You can use gauze rolls, gauze pads, and either sterile or nonsterile gauze, depending on your injury.
You don’t want to leave a scar! Speed up the healing process with a hydrogel bandage, which adds moisture to a wounded area. With the cooling relief, this type of bandage is recommended for first and second degree burns.
Not to be confused with the delicious breakfast pastries, crepe bandages are used to protect open wounds from infection. They’re beneficial to have after surgeries as they’re washable and reusable, saving you money on bandaging.
If you’re a runner, you should make sure to have moleskin bandages at home. These thick cotton bandages are great for covering blisters, corns, and calluses. They reduce friction and provide cushioning, which makes it more comfortable when you’re on your feet.
Let’s say you accidentally sliced your finger while chopping veggies. In that case, you might want to try liquid bandages. This medical ointment works like glue and holds the edges of a wound together. They work better for minor injuries rather than deep, large wounds.
Doctors and hospitals may treat a serious injury using a collagen bandage. These sterile bandages are best for wounds that take a long time to heal or cover a large area of the body. You’ll often see collagen bandages used after surgeries since they allow new cells to grow.
Everything these days is digital and that may include your bandages! Research is being done at universities around the United States in how to make e-bandages, which work via electric field to treat wounds and injuries. Time will tell if these are on sale in the future!
If you have kids, printed bandages are a must in your bathroom at home. While any pattern is fun, cartoon bandages are real winners since they make minor injuries seem less scary and bring some fun to the healing process. Healthcare providers can also use custom bandages for shots and stitches.
You’ll most likely use elastic or adhesive bandages that stick right on your skin. However, there are also some wound dressings, like gauze or crepe bandages, that come with metal clasps or pins. Do your research ahead of time and always ask your doctor for a second opinion.*
*DISCLAIMER: This list is for informative purposes only and is not an official diagnosis. Quality Logo Products® is not a team of medical professionals. If you have questions about specific types of bandages, contact your primary physician or a healthcare provider.
What Do You Use a Bandage For?
Unless you live in a bubble, you and your family are going to get hurt at some point. Life is unpredictable, which is why you should be prepared for any situation.
Bandages can be used for any of the following:
- New tattoos
- Blood/plasma donations
- Carpal tunnel
- Sore muscles
According to Cleveland Clinic, there are some injuries like dry scabs and minor scrapes that need to be left uncovered so they heal faster. However, most of the time you’ll want to put some kind of wound dressing on an injury.
What Are the Most Popular Bandage Brands?
Band-Aid is king when it comes to bandages, pulling in about $168 million in U.S. sales every year. But don’t overlook the other options out there when shopping for wound coverings!
The full list of bandage brands includes:
Year Started: 1918
Surprisingly, the Ace bandage is older than Band-Aid! These elastic bandages usually come with clips or hooks, though you can also find some that are self-adhesive. They’re recommended to compress and provide support to sprains and sore muscles.
Year Started: 1920
If you need a finger bandage, then Band-Aid is perfect for you! The brand was originally marketed to kids. In fact, every troop in the Boy Scouts of America received a complimentary box, and in the 1950s, the first cartoon bandages featuring Mickey Mouse hit shelves. Today, everyone loves Band-Aid no matter what their age!
Year Started: 2001
Coverlet bandages are a product of Essity Medical Solutions, a company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. These bandages are 100% latex-free, which is great for those who have allergies. Plus, they’re designed to be opened even if a person’s wearing disposable gloves.
Year Started: 1951
Grab a Curad bandage next time you need to cover a wound! This brand is built around “ouchless technology,” which promises painless removal when you remove the silicone bandages from your skin. They also have cooling, touch-free, and antibacterial bandages in their product selection.
Year Started: 1833
McKesson is a large pharmaceutical company that is known for supplying hospitals and medical centers with life-saving equipment, solutions, and technology. Their Unna Boot bandages and gauze are both sold over-the-counter. These wound dressings have a double layer of cloth that is lightweight and comfortable to wear throughout a busy day.
Year Started: 1997
The All-in-One New Skin Liquid Bandage is not made from cloth or fabric like other wound coverings. It’s a liquid brush that you can paint onto open sores, cuts, scrapes, and calluses. This brand of liquid bandages is 100% waterproof and kills 99.9% of germs.
Year Started: 1994
3M is best known for Post-it Notes, but they also own Nexcare – a popular bandage brand. These bandages were released to compete with Johnson & Johnson in the first aid market and come in either bright or comfort strips. You can also get Nexcare Seal Seals or tattoo strips, which are printed with fun cartoon faces.
Year Started: 1953
Healthcare professionals can buy over 600 medical products from ProAdvantage. This company sells not only fabric bandages, but also surgical tools, antibacterial soap, hot cold packs, crutches, and syringes.
Year Started: 2019
Sold exclusively at Target, Welly bandages are too cute to resist. The bright, trendy packaging is designed to look like unicorns, jellyfish, rainbows, and ice cream cones. Pick up these bandages to bring good vibes to your medical care!
And that’s not all! There are other brands, such as All-Health, Solimo, and Flex-Band, that you can buy at your local drugstore or online through Amazon.
Who Makes Band Aids?
Johnson & Johnson is a giant corporation in the U.S. that makes Band-Aids, Tylenol, Neutrogena, and Clean & Clear. They’re a Fortune 500 company that makes an estimated $81 billion every single year.
How to Apply a Bandage
A medical professional will give you the best advice on how to apply a bandage, but if you want a quick tutorial, just follow these steps!
- Step One: Wash your hands with water and antibacterial soap for at least 20 seconds.
- Step Two: Clean the wound with a clean cloth and cold water.
- Step Three: Apply antibiotic ointment or petroleum to the area.
- Step Four: Choose the right type of bandage for the wound. This can be a simple adhesive bandage or something more complex that involves gauze or wrapping.
- Step Five: Secure the bandage over the injured area. Make sure it’s totally covered, but not too tight as it will restrict blood flow.
- Step Six: Test to make sure you can still comfortably move the bandaged area.
- Step Seven: See a doctor if the area feels numb or doesn’t stop bleeding.
Start by properly washing your hands with water and antibacterial soap. You should scrub for at least 20 seconds.
According to Mayo Clinic, you should clean the wound before you apply the bandage. Dab at the area with a soft, clean cloth to stop any bleeding. Next, rinse the wound with cool water. If you feel comfortable, you can also use sanitized tweezers to remove dirt or debris from the area.
Cover the wound with antibiotic ointment or petroleum before you bandage it. This can help prevent infections, allow a minor wound to heal faster, and provide soothing relief to burns.
Use the right type of bandage for your injury. This may be an adhesive bandage, hydrocolloid bandage, gauze, butterfly bandage, or maybe a triangular bandage. It really depends on the size of the wound and where it’s located on your body.
Not sure which type of bandage to use? Here a few quick suggestions!
- Adhesive Bandage: Use for minor injuries like paper cuts or scraped knees
- Butterfly Bandage: Use on knuckles and for deep slices and cuts
- Collagen Bandage: Use for wounds that cover a large area of the body
- Gauze: Use for sprains or to bandage burns
- Moleskin Bandage: Use for calluses, corns, and blisters
- Triangular Bandage: Use for dislocated, fractures, or broken bones until you can get to a doctor
- Tubular Bandages: Use for large cuts on the arms or legs
Make sure the bandage is firmly in place. It should cover the entire wound, but shouldn’t be so tight that it interferes with blood flow. If you see your skin turning pale or blue, it’s way too tight!
Did you put a bandage on your arm? Rotate your shoulder and stretch it out to double check that you can still move comfortably. Reapply the bandage if the area feels numb or is tingling after a few hours.
Keep an eye on the injured area for the rest of the day. If it feels sore, numb, or won’t stop bleeding, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, you should also make an appointment if you can’t get dirt out of the wound, the area is inflamed, or if the injury came from an animal bite.
*DISCLAIMER: This is not an official diagnosis. Quality Logo Products® is not a team of medical professionals. If you have questions about how to apply a bandage, contact your primary physician or a healthcare provider.
When Should Bandages Be Changed?
Change your bandage every 24 to 48 hours, or if it becomes wet or dirty. You should change it sooner if the wound is leaking through.
For more serious injuries, your doctor will give you advice on how often to change a wound dressing. Be sure to ask questions during your appointment, so you’re ready to provide the best care at home.
Do you need to put on a new bandage? Always wash your hands and clean the wound first! This is the best way to prevent infection in the area.
How to Take Off a Bandage Without It Hurting
Nothing is worse than having to rip off a Band-Aid! Do you want the process to be totally ouch-free? Try these strategies!
Take a Bath or Shower
Water will weaken the adhesive, which makes it easier to remove the bandage without any pain. You can also soak a washcloth and apply it to the area if you don’t feel like hopping in the shower.
Use Baby or Olive Oil
Soak a cotton ball or Q-tip with baby oil or olive oil and rub it all over the adhesive bandage. It should fall off naturally, but if it’s stubborn, slowly peel it from the edge.
Dissolve With Alcohol
You can dissolve a super sticky bandage using rubbing alcohol. Use a moderate amount and make sure it doesn’t get in the open wound. It will seriously burn if it comes into contact with your injury!
Apply an Ice Pack
Grab an ice pack from your freezer and rest it on top of the bandage. It will become brittle after about 5 minutes, which makes it pain-free to rip off your skin.
Soften With Blow Dryer
Blow dry the bandaged area from a safe distance. This will melt the adhesive and cause it to naturally peel off your skin. Please note: this hack is not recommended if the wound is a burn.
Can You Reuse Bandages?
A majority of bandages are not reusable and need to be properly disposed of as hazardous waste. The only exception is certain types of gauze, triangular bandages, compression bandages, and crepe bandages.
Can You Use Bandages on Dogs?
You can definitely use bandages on your dogs and cats. Since your pets are furry, you should use an absorbent pad, gauze, and adhesive tape to hold everything in place.
Follow the same steps you would for applying a bandage to a human. Wash your hands, clean the wound of any dirt or debris, apply a pet-safe ointment, and be gentle. The only difference is you may need to use a cone to prevent your pet from chewing or licking the area. Reach out to your vet if you notice your pet limping or if you just want a second opinion.
What is the Best Bandage to Use?
The best bandage to use depends on the severity of the injury and the area of your body that needs to be covered. Ultimately, you want the dressing to be sterile, large enough to cover the entire wound, and comfortable to wear throughout the day.
Are you shopping for bandages? Be sure to do all the following beforehand:
Ask a Medical Professional
It’s always a good idea to ask a doctor to recommend a bandage. You don’t even need to make an appointment. Just call the nursing line, describe the situation, and ask which wound dressing you should purchase.
Assess the Damage
Do you have a paper cut on your finger? Adhesive bandages will do the job! How about a blister on the bottom of your foot? Grab a moleskin bandage. The right bandage is determined by the nature of the injury.
Prepare for the Environment
Your environment might be a factor when deciding on a bandage. For instance, if you’re going swimming, you’ll want waterproof bandages that won’t come off when you’re in the pool.
Think About Your Budget
Set a budget ahead of time before you go shopping. In many cases, the generic brands work just as well as the name brands and may even have more bandages in the box.
Look Up Reviews
People are brutally honest in their online reviews. Check them out ahead of time, so you know which type of bandage or brand is most recommended.
Consider the Future
Bandages are like toilet paper, shampoo, and hand sanitizer. You always want them to be available. With that in mind, you should purchase bandages in bulk to save money and avoid running out in the future.
Overall, you should have a variety of bandage types in case of emergencies. You never know when a cut, bump, scrape, blister, or burn will occur.
What is the Purpose of a Bandage?
A bandage is not a substitute for a doctor’s office, hospital, or emergency room. It’s meant to prevent further infection, bacteria, damage, pain, strain, or bleeding in minor wounds and injuries.
If you’re seriously injured, it’s recommended that you reach out to a trusted physician as soon as possible. They’ll give you the right advice when it comes to treatment.
The Bottom Line
You know what they say…better safe than sorry! Even if an injury seems minor, it doesn’t hurt to contact your doctor to get an official diagnosis. They will give you all the information you need to know about bandaging and caring for your wounds!
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