A Glimpse into the Making of Adhesive Bandages

What are the adhesives used in making adhesive bandages?

Short Answer: Various types of adhesive substances are can be used to make adhesive bandages. There are several considerations that go into choosing the ideal one. To understand these considerations, let us take a look at;

  • What are adhesive bandages?
  • What are the types of adhesive bandages? 
  • What are the components of an adhesive bandage? 
  • Are adhesive bandages sterilized during or after production?
Adhesive Bandages

What are adhesive bandages?

An adhesive bandage is a small medical dressing used to treat injuries not severe enough to require a full-size application. 

Depending on where you live, an adhesive bandage may be referred to by the synonym of sticking plaster, medical plaster, and plaster. 

However, many would identify adhesive bandages under the generic trademarks of Band-Aid (commonly used in the United States, Australia, Canada, and India) and Elastoplast (United Kingdom) 


Adhesive Bandages promote healing by protecting wounds and scrabs from foreign agents and the elements by acting as a physical barrier. 

By covering the wound, the bandages also facilitate the creation of the optimum environment for healing. 

The materials used to design some adhesive bandages have antiseptic properties. (Antiseptic substances/materials contain antimicrobial substances that reduce the risk of infection without damaging skin and tissue)

What are the types of adhesive bandages?

Several types of adhesive bandages can be found in the market. While some are specific in their functionality, most are fit for general use. 

The types of adhesive bandages that are found in the market include;

  • Standard Adhesive Bandage (Stripe) 
  • Spot Adhesive Bandages 
  • Fingertip bandages 
  • Knuckle bandages 
  • Transdermal patches
  • Butterfly closures/ Butterfly stitches 
  • Adhesive bandage wraps

Standard Adhesive Bandage (Strip)

  • The most common type of adhesive dressing found in the market. 
  • A small flexible sheet of material that consists of a sticky side and a non-stick side. 
  • Most commonly associated with the synonyms mentioned above. 
  • They can be found in a multitude of colours (bandages designed for a child are often printed with various shapes and cartoons)

Spot Adhesive Bandages

  • The Round version of the classic adhesive bandage. 
  • These bandages feature a sterile gauze attached to a flexible plastic or fabric film outfitted with adhesives. 
  • Ideal for minor cuts, abrasions, insect bites, burns and blemishes.

Fingertip bandages 

  • These are Adhesive bandages specially designed to treat injuries to the fingertips.
  • These bandages are ideal as a covering for more cuts, punctures, burns, bites, and abrasions.

Knuckle Bandages

  • These adhesive bandages are designed to be applied for minor knuckle injuries. 

Transdermal patches

  • A variation of the classic adhesive bandage 
  • Transdermal patches are medicated adhesive patches placed on the skin to deliver a specific dose of medication through the skin directly into the bloodstream. 
  • The main components are the liner, drug, adhesive, membrane, backing, permeation enhancer, and matrix filler. (the patches can also include stabilizers and preservatives)
  • There are five types of transdermal patches. Single-layer drug-in-adhesive, Multi-layer drug-in-adhesive, Reservoir, Matrix, and Vapour patch.
  • The most common substances dispensed by transdermal patches are nicotine and Fentanyl (Opioid) - (Nicotine patches are the highest-selling transdermal patches in the United States.
  • Main Advantage: The patch provides a controlled release of medication to the patient bloodstream. 
  • Main Disadvantage: The skin is a very effective physical barrier. Therefore, only the molecules of the medicine that are small enough will be delivered to the

Butterfly Closures/ Butterfly Stitches

  • They are also known as "Steri-strips." 
  • These adhesive bandages are an alternative to the traditional needle and thread suture. 
  • The bandages are used to close minor, shallow wounds. 
  • The butterfly sutures contribute to the healing of injuries by connecting the two sides of the cut. 
  • Given proper care and maintenance, butterfly stitches should stay in place for up to 12 days. (The stitch and the wound must be kept dry during the first 48 hours) After 12 days, the stitches can be removed safely. 
  • To prevent the risk of the wound reopening, use a half-&-half solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. (the solution is used to loosen the adhesive and make it easy to lift the stitches once the wound has healed)

Adhesive bandage wraps

  • They are the more significant, elongated cousins of the traditional band-aid. 
  • They are commonly used in a support role in keeping dressings and casts for more extensive wounds and injuries in place. 
  • The bandage wraps can also be used directly to cover injuries.  
Kids Adhesive Bandages

What are the components of an adhesive bandage?

Regardless of the structural variations, almost all adhesive bandages comprise the same crucial components. They are;

  • Adhesive sheet
  • Absorbent Pads
  • Bandage covering

Adhesive sheet

  • The adhesive sheet is usually woven fabric, plastic (PVC, Polyurethane, Polyethylene) or a latex strip. 
  • Depending on the design, the bandage may or may not be airtight and waterproof. 
  • The adhesives commonly used in the manufacturing of bandages are acrylates, methacrylates and epoxy diacrylates (also known as vinyl resins) 
  • This part of the bandage helps the bandage stick to the wound.

Absorbent Pads

  • The absorbent pad is the part of the bandage that covers the wound and keeps the dressing from sticking to the wound directly.
  • The pads are often made of cotton. Some bandages consist of a porous-polymer coating over the pad.

Bandage Covering 

  • The part of the bandage that protects the application from foreign contaminating agents. 
  • This part is usually removed before the plaster is administered.

Are adhesive bandages sterilized during or after production?

  • According to the Internet, sterilization is the process that removes, kills, or deactivates all forms of life and biological life present on a specific surface or substance. 
  • Sterilization is integral to the production and maintenance of medical substances and equipment. 
  • The sterilization process can be carried out using wet heat (steam), dry heat, radiation, vaporized hydrogen peroxide, ethylene oxide gas and other chemicals.
  • In terms of the sterilization of bandages, ethylene oxide in small concentrations is the most common substance used, and sterilization commonly takes place before the plaster is sealed in packaging.
  • The use of Ethylene Oxide by manufacturers must comply with consensus national and international standards.
  • The International Standard (ISO 11135:2014) specifies the requirements for the development, validation, and routine control of the EtO sterilization process for medical devices in both the industrial and healthcare sectors.

Why Ethylene Oxide?   

In the sterilization process, it is essential not to damage the product. Since bandages can be made from specific polymers (plastic or resin), metals, or glass, the chance of the final product getting damaged is high if the product is sterilized using heat or chemicals. 

Key Facts 

  • More than 50% of all medical devices are sterilized using Ethylene Oxide. 
  • Most surgeries involve at least one device that Ethylene Oxide has sterilized.

For an in-depth look into the types of bandages, refer to A Summary of All Types of Available Bandages.

Adhesive Bandages

Related Questions:

What are the characteristics that should be taken into consideration when selecting an adhesive bandage?

Several characteristics must be taken into account when selecting the proper adhesive bandage;


  • Represents the stickiness of the material used in the bandage
  • Vital to take into consideration when used with elderly, sensitive, or delicate skin 
  • Different substances provide different levels of adhesion and directly contribute to the period of wear and comfort when removed.


  • This relates to the ability of the fabric to absorb moisture. 
  • A wound heals quicker and better when the bandage provides and protects the ideal environment.


  • Durability determines the bandage's lifespan 
  • We must select a durable bandage to protect the wound until it is fully healed.

Can people be allergic to adhesive bandages?

Yes. Some of the materials used in the plasters, especially the adhesives used, can sometimes cause an allergic reaction.

The medical term used to identify such allergic reactions is contact dermatitis.

Signs & symptoms of contact dermatitis vary widely and can include the following:

  • Itchy rashes 
  • Dry, scaly, and cracked skin 
  • Swelling, burning or tenderness of the skin. 
  • Redness of the afflicted area.

Are there alternatives to traditional adhesive bandages?

Yes, there are several alternatives to adhesive bandages. They are instrumental in treating minor injuries of individuals who may suffer from allergic reactions to components associated with adhesive bandages.

The alternatives available are;

  • Skin barrier sprays/wipes 
  • Hypoallergenic tape 
  • Gauze

Skin barrier sprays/ wipes

  • These are sprays/ films that form a protective barrier between the skin and the bandage
  • It prevents the allergic materials from coming into direct contact with the skin. 
  • After the bandage is removed, it can be easily removed with soap and water. 
  • These products must not be applied directly or on the face of the wound.

Hypoallergenic tape 

  • These tapes are designed to adhere firmly to the skin or dressing material but can be removed gently without damaging sensitive skin. 
  • These tapes are ideal for infants, the elderly, and post-surgical applications.


  • A thin translucent fabric with a loose open weave 
  • The gauze was initially made of silk. Gauzes used as medical dressings are usually made of cotton. 
  • Modern medical gauze is covered with perforated plastic films to prevent direct contact with wounds.


Adhesive bandages are essential in medical treatments and are items anyone can use.

Through this blog, we identified an adhesive bandage and the parts that make up a traditional adhesive bandage. Furthermore, we determined that there are several variations of the conventional adhesive bandages that are used as a covering for varying treatments.

The blog also referenced the sterilization methods and standards adhered to in the adhesive bandage manufacturing process.


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