What Are the Different Types of Bandages Used in First Aid?

Bandages – you've seen them, maybe even used them, but have you ever thought about how diverse they are and how crucial they are in first aid? These tools are more than just pieces of fabric. They're lifesavers, they're healers, they're protectors.

In this blog, we're going to take a deep dive into the world of bandages. We'll shine a light on the various types and uses, uncover their importance, and share some valuable insights to help you get to know these essential tools a little better. Let's get started.


What Are Bandages?


first aid kit with different types of bandages
Credit: Envato Elements/ towfiqu98


A bandage is a piece of material used to support medical devices such as a dressing or splint, or on its own to provide support to the body. It can also restrict movement to help in healing, prevent additional damage, and even apply pressure to control bleeding.

Most of the time, bandages are made from soft cotton, which makes them flexible and good at soaking up liquids. But sometimes, they can also be made from other materials, depending on what they're needed for. They come in different shapes and sizes, each made for a specific job in medicine.

The correct application of a bandage depends on its type and the nature of the injury. In general, it should be snug but not too tight, as this can interfere with circulation and cause further damage.


What Are the Different Types of Bandages?


different types of bandages


Now that you know what are bandages, here are the different types of bandages used in first aid:


1) Adhesive Bandage


number putting a bandaid on a patients arm
Credit: Envato Elements/ DragonImages


Adhesive bandages are found in almost every first aid kit and most homes around the world. These bandages are made up of a sticky part and a soft, often medicated, pad. The pad goes over the wound to soak up any fluid and protect the cut, while the sticky part holds it in place.

When we talk about adhesive bandages, we're referring to a wide range of products ranging from the standard 'plasters' in the UK or 'Band-Aids' in the U.S., to specialized variants such as fingertip or knuckle bandages. They come in handy when you have a small accident in the kitchen or if a child gets a scrape while playing.


2) Elastic Bandage (Compression Bandage)


man wrapping bandage around wrist
Credit: Envato Elements/ Rawpixel


Next in line are elastic bandages, also known as 'compression bandages.' These stretchable bandages have a distinct role in first aid, providing support to soft tissue injuries, and sprained or strained limbs, reducing swelling, and helping in managing chronic conditions like varicose veins. The elasticity woven into their fabric allows for a secure fit and the ability to adjust the pressure based on the injury's severity.

These bandages come in two types to cater to different body parts: long-stretch compression bandages and short-stretch compression bandages. When using elastic or compression bandages, care must be taken to ensure it's snug but not too tight, as over-tightening can lead to circulation issues.


3) Triangular Bandage (Cravat Bandage)


man with arm in sling
Credit: Shutterstock


Triangular bandages are also known as cravat bandages. These bandages are made from a large piece of cloth cut into a right-angled triangle and can be used as a sling for arm or shoulder injuries, to wrap around wounds, to keep dressings in place, and in extreme cases, even as a tourniquet.

What's great about them is that they don't stretch, which is helpful when dealing with fractures or dislocations. Plus, you can fold them in different ways to fit various body parts, making them versatile and adaptable.


4) Gauze Bandage (Common Gauze Roller Bandage)


doctor with nurse wrapping bandage around child patient's wrist
Credit: Envato Elements/ DC_Studio


When you're dealing with bigger wounds, gauze bandages, also known as roller bandages or crepe bandages are a must-have. These bandages are often used alongside other wound dressings. They're handy for a couple of different things: they keep the dressings in place and add an extra protective layer to protect the wound from dirt and other contaminants.

A great thing about them is that they are breathable, which is essential for healing. You can find them in different widths and lengths, and they come in both sterile and non-sterile versions, so you can pick the one that suits your first aid needs best.


5) Cohesive Compression Bandage


man wrapping bandage around ankle
Credit: Medisist Drugs and Surgicals


A relatively new addition to the bandage family is the cohesive compression bandage. These bandages are made from a blend of materials and have a unique ability to stick to themselves but not to skin, hair, or clothes. This self-adhesive feature makes them great for keeping dressings, splints, or ice packs in place, all without the usual stickiness of regular tapes.

Because they are flexible and easy to use, cohesive bandages have become popular in sports medicine, veterinary care, and even in managing conditions like lymphedema. You can cut them to the length you need without worrying about them unraveling, which makes them a convenient choice.


6) Tubular Bandage


man with tubular bandage on arm
Credit: MedicalExpo


Tube bandages, also known as tubular bandages, are exactly what they sound like: they're like tubes made to fit over limbs. These bandages offer gentle compression, hold dressings in place, and can protect the skin under plaster casts or long-term dressings. They're really handy when you're dealing with injuries on joints or tricky spots where regular bandages might not do the job well enough.

To put on tube bandages properly, you usually need a special applicator to make sure they're snug and fit just right. They come in different sizes and are often color-coded to help you choose the right one for your needs.


7) Conforming Bandages


man with conforming bandage on injured arm
Credit: Medstock


Conforming bandages live up to their name by easily shaping themselves to fit different body parts. They are lightweight, stretchy, and can adapt to even the trickiest areas like elbows or knees. These bandages share some similarities with compression bandages but have a piece of tape to secure them in place after wrapping around a wound or dressing.

Although they are stretchy and breathable, which helps with healing, they don't offer as much pressure or support as compression bandages do. That's why you'll often find them used alongside other types of bandages to ensure complete care.


8) Specialized Bandages


nurse placing bandage on burnt arm
Credit: Envato Elements/ microgen


Specialized bandages are essential to meet specific medical needs. Some examples include:


1. Burn dressings: These bandages are designed to help with burns and often contain soothing and healing ingredients to promote recovery.

2. Occlusive dressings: They are used for wounds on the chest or abdomen and are meant to create an airtight seal to protect the area.

3. Hemostatic bandages: These bandages contain substances that speed up blood clotting and are used to control severe bleeding.


FAQ Section


1) Can I reuse bandages?

No, it's generally not recommended to reuse bandages, especially if they have come into contact with blood or other bodily fluids. Using sterile, fresh bandages for each application helps prevent infection and ensures proper wound care.


2) Are bandages a substitute for professional medical treatment?

Bandages are essential for initial first aid care, but they are not a substitute for professional medical treatment, especially in severe or complex injuries. Seek immediate medical attention when necessary, and use bandages as a temporary measure until medical help arrives.


3) Do bandages have an expiration date?

Yes, bandages can have expiration dates, especially sterile ones. Check the packaging for expiration information and replace any expired bandages to ensure their effectiveness in first aid situations.




The world of bandages is vast, and each type is carefully designed to address different injuries and medical conditions. Being familiar with these bandages, understanding their uses, and knowing how to apply them can significantly impact the effectiveness of the first aid provided.

Are you prepared to tackle any emergency that comes your way? Introducing Emergency USA, the ultimate first aid kit designed to empower you in critical situations. Packed with a comprehensive array of meticulously crafted bandages, this kit ensures you have the right tools to address a variety of injuries and medical conditions. Shop with us today.