Properly dressing a cut, scrape, or burn is often what separates infection from healthy recovery. Not only do bandages cover a wound and keep it from getting dirty, but they can keep medicated ointments secure, soak up the drainage, and help prevent aggravation. Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to navigate which wound dressings to use and how to use them. Use this guide to learn more about which bandage is right for each cut or scrape:

Adhesive Bandages

Adhesive bandages are the ones we see most often in the drugstore, and they’re more commonly known as “Band-Aids.” These bandages are the complete package: one side of the bandage has gauze to pad the wound, and adhesive to help it stick to the skin. The other side of the bandage is most often stretchy fabric or latex.

Adhesive bandages are great for small cuts and scrapes since they only come in a few sizes. These bandages are great for wrapping around fingers and sitting on joints as well, since they are flexible and give the skin room to breathe when bent. Larger injuries, however, may need a little more than a drugstore bandage.


Gauze is the first layer when dressing any wound since it is highly absorbent and is best used to soak up excess blood or other liquids that drain from an injury. Gauze is also quite breathable and makes for good padding between the wound and the bandage. Since gauze is soft, it can be used for more than just wound dressings as well. Sterile gauze is great for cleaning wounds and burns as well. Gauze is most often packaged as a roll of material, or in separate packages that contain little squares for wound dressings.

Medicated Bandages and Gauze

Some types of gauze also come medicated, with some form of antibiotic, pain management ointment, or rubbing alcohol. Gauze with antibiotic ointment on it is best for traditional wound dressings, while gauze with alcohol is best for cleaning wounds. Ideally, it is best to have both medicated gauze and sterile gauze on hand for cleaning and bandaging injuries.

Roller Bandages

Roller bandages are, in essence, bulk bandages. Like adhesive bandages, these too protect wounds from dirt and infection, but they do not come with adhesive and are much larger than adhesive bandages. Roller bandages are best for large wounds, and you may see them covering someone’s stitches or a large burn. Unlike adhesive bandages, roller bandages are made of stretchy fabric, and must be placed over gauze and either tied together, fastened with metal fasteners, or taped on using medical tape.

Medical Tape

Medical tape is the glue that holds everything together. To keep gauze and bandages attached to the skin, medical tape uses a skin-safe adhesive just like the ones on traditional adhesive bandages. Medical tape comes in many shapes and sizes as well, with latex tapes, woven adhesives, and even foam tapes to fit any need.

To browse a wide variety of wound care products, visit Medical Supply Depot.
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