A Summary of All Types of Available Bandages

Bandages are materials used to either support a medical device (dressing, splint) or on their own to support or restrict the movement of the injured part of the body. 

The classification of bandages can be done in a multitude of ways. However, the most common means of differentiating depends on the design and composition.

Classification based on design: 

  • Gauze Bandage (Common gauze roller bandage)
  • Adhesive Bandages
  • Liquid Bandages
  • Compression Bandages
  • Triangular Bandages
  • Tube Bandages
  • Kirigami Bandages

Classification based on composition:

  • Crepe Bandages
  • Conforming Bandages
  • Cohesive Bandages
  • Open wove Bandages
  • Plaster of Paris

What are the differences between the available bandages?

Short Answer: The differences between available bandages primarily depend on their design and classification.

There are a wide variety of bandages available in the market. The unique characteristic of each bandage depends on the injury it was designed to treat.

Classification based on design.

  • Gauze Bandage (Common gauze roller bandage)
  • It is the most common type of bandage, and it can come in various shapes and sizes.

    The versatility of the standard gauze is such that it can be used as a part of any bandage application.

  • Adhesive Bandages
  • Adhesive bandages are commonly known as medical plasters or by the generalized trademark of Band-Aid.

    The classic Band-Aid consists of a sticky side and a non-stick side where the absorbent pad, often made from cotton, is stuck to the sticky side, often made from coated paper (sometimes plastic).

    These bandages are packed in a sealed, sterile bag. The sticky side consists of a back covering, which must be removed before the plaster is used.

  • Liquid Bandages
  • These bandages typically consist of a polymer dissolved in a solvent, sometimes inclusive of antiseptics. Liquid Bandages are ideal for minor wounds as it forms a protective layer of polymer over the wound to keep dirt and germs out and retain moisture. 

    The potential polymers used in liquid bandages include polyvinylpyrrolidone, ethyl cellulose, nitrocellulose, and siloxane polymers. 

    Recent technological developments have allowed manufacturers to incorporate amino acids into the bandage. The idea is that amino acids can hasten the formation of peptide links in the skin and accelerate healing.

    The innovation has the potential to reduce bleeding during and after surgery.

  • Compression Bandages
  • These bandages are most commonly used to treat sports injuries and by orthodontists to treat muscle sprains and strains. It can also assist in the treatment of bone fractures. 

    Compression bandages assist in the treatment by reducing the blood flow to the injured area by either applying stable pressure or restricting the swelling at the place of injury.

    The bandages are removed after the swelling decreases, and a fibreglass or plaster cast is applied afterwards. 

  • Triangular bandages 
  • The original version was first designed by Friedrich von Esmarch, a professor of surgery and the University of Kiel, Germany and was used to treat battlefield injuries. Thus, these bandages are also known as the Esmarch Tourniquet.

    Its modern form is a narrow (5-10 cm) wide soft rubber bandage. The bandage is used as a large dressing and supports the injured limb by acting as a sling or securing the wound dressing.

  • Tube Bandages
  • The original version was first designed by Friedrich von Esmarch, a professor of surgery and the University of Kiel, Germany and was used to treat battlefield injuries. Thus, these bandages are also known as the Esmarch Tourniquet.

    Its modern form is a narrow (5-10 cm) wide soft rubber bandage. The bandage is used as a large dressing and supports the injured limb by acting as a sling or securing the wound dressing.

  • Kirigami Bandage
  • This bandage was invented in 2016 and was inspired by the art of kirigami.

    3D printing moulds have been used to produce these bandages.

Classification based on composition.

  • Crepe Bandages
  • These bandages are commonly made of cotton, woven and elasticized.

    They are ideal for healing sprains and strains by providing good compression to the injured areas. Furthermore, these bandages can be used for dressing retention.

    These bandages are washable and reusable.

  • Conforming Bandages
  • As the name suggests, these badges are stretchy and adjust well to the body's contours.

    These bandages can be used both to hold wound dressings and to support the compression of injured muscles and joints.

  • Cohesive Bandages
  • These bandages are quick and easy to apply as they are designed to stick to themselves, but not skin or hair. 

  • Open wove Bandages
  • The bandages can hold dressings in place without applying pressure to the wound.

    The loose weave of open-wove bandages allows for good ventilation and prevents infections.

  • Plaster of Paris  
  • It is a well-known name for the quick-setting gypsum plaster that contains calcium sulfate hemihydrate, which gives it classic fine white colouring.

    Once the powder is combined with water, the substance can be moulded into shapes, including casts for limbs.

    Medical professionals should only apply these bandages.

    (Fun Fact: The bandage has been known to man since Ancient times. However, the bandage gets its name because of the great use of gypsum found near Paris in its preparation.)

Gauze Bandage

Types of bandages available for nursing?

Short Answer: Multiple types of bandages are available for nursing. Some bandages are versatile and can treat multiple injuries, while others are designed to treat specific injuries. 

The types of bandages available in nursing include:

  • Roller Bandages
  • Triangular Bandages
  • Four-tailed
  • Many-tailed (Scultetus)
  • Quadrangular Bandages
  • Elastic Bandages (elastic knit, rubber, synthetic, or combinations of these)
  • Adhesive Bandages
  • Elastic Adhesive Bandages
  • Newer Cohesive Bandages 
  • Impregnated Bandages (Eg: Plaster of Paris)
  • Stockinet

Does using a different bandage require the same training?

Short Answer: Depends on the type of bandage.

The varieties of bandages available range from simple to the most complex. Furthermore, we must remember that Bandaging is a skill.  

Simple bandages such as band-aids and butterfly stitches do not require specialized training or qualifications and can be applied and removed without the presence of a medical professional. 

However, applying complex bandages such as compression bandages, plaster of Paris, and tubular bandages requires the presence and expertise of a medical professional. The improper use of these bandages can result in the wound not healing correctly, leading to further complications and potential deformities. 

Training for the application of complex bandages is covered in First Aid training and nursing courses.    

What are all the bandages available for First Aid?

Short Answer: Band-Aid (Adhesive strips), Butterfly stitches (Adhesive strip variant), Common Gauze, Triangular Bandages, Tubular Bandages, and Roller Bandages.

Specialized First-Aid kits can also contain special bandages, such as transdermal patches.  

Bandages are integral to any first-aid kit and are some of the most versatile and valuable items.

The bandages can vary in shape and size and are used to treat various injuries, from minor scratches to major accidents.

  • Roller Bandages 
  • They are the most common bandage type made from a continuous strip of lightweight, breathable gauze. The standard gauze we see in many first-aid kits is the classic example of a roller bandage.  

  • Tubular Bandages
  • Tubular bandages are arguably the least versatile of the bandages available for first aid. They are thick, elasticized gauze tubes designed for a single body part.

    They are often used to compress, immobilize/support knee and elbow joints. Sometimes, tubular bandages can be used to hold a wound dressing against the limb.

    The compression bandages mentioned above can fall under this category.

  • Butterfly Stitches
  • A variant of the traditional adhesive band-aid, butterfly stitches are made from thin adhesive strips and are often applied on lacerations.

    The bandage hastens the healing process by pulling the skin on either side of the wound closer together.

    The stitches can be used in addition/ in place of actual sutures and do not require the expertise of a medical professional to apply or remove.

  • Transdermal patches
  • This adhesive bandage work differently compared to its counterparts. Instead of covering or holding the wound together, it distributes antiseptic medication over the injured area.    


Related Questions:

Can people be allergic to bandages?

Short Answer: Yes

The adhesive in bandages provides stickiness and allows the dressings to remain attached to the skin.

However, there can be instances where the adhesive used can cause contact dermatitis, a skin condition where the symptoms include rash, blisters, and skin flaking.

How can adhesive allergies be treated?

Short Answer: The treatment depends on the severity of the allergic reaction. 

Mild reaction - treating the response is as simple as removing the adhesive product and letting the rash heal over time.

Severe reaction - Stop using the product immediately and treat the rash using anti-inflammatory creams.

Treatment may involve over-the-counter hydrocortisone 1% cream or a more potent prescription cream.

If you have any questions, consult your doctor to obtain the necessary information.

Are there alternatives to traditional bandage adhesives?

Short Answer: Yes

Recent technological advancements have allowed us to develop alternatives to traditional bandages.

Skin barrier films - It is a spray/ wipe that forms a protective layer between the skin and the bandage. The film can be washed off with soap and water.

However, these films should not be directly applied to the skin or face.


Bandages are a helpful tool in treating injuries.

Injuries can range from minor cuts to severe bruises, concussions, and fractures.

Some bandages are versatile and can serve multiple purposes, while some are designed for specific injuries.

Bandages can be classified based on design and composition. 

The presence of some materials in bandages can cause contact dermatitis. 

The range of treatment varies depending on the severity of the allergic reaction. 

Consult a licensed medical professional if there are any questions relating to injuries and bandages.    


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