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How to Bandage a Wound


How to Bandage a Wound

Use the following guidelines if you decide to apply a bandage to your wound.

  • Consider bandaging the wound if you need to protect it from getting dirty or irritated. Choose the bandage carefully. There are many products available. Before you buy or use one, be sure to read the label carefully and follow the label's instructions when you apply the bandage.
  • Clean the wound thoroughly before bandaging it to reduce the risk of infection occurring under the bandage.
  • If you use a cloth-like bandage, apply a clean bandage when it gets wet or soiled to further help prevent infection. If a bandage is stuck to a scab, soak it in warm water to soften the scab and make the bandage easier to remove. If available, use a nonstick dressing. There are many bandage products available. Be sure to read the product label for correct use.
  • Watch for signs of infection. If an infection develops under a bandage, you may need a visit to your health professional.
  • Apply a clean bandage when it gets wet or soiled to further help prevent infection. If a bandage is stuck to a scab, soak it in warm water to soften the scab and make the bandage easier to remove. If available, use a nonstick dressing. There are many bandage products available. Be sure to read the product label for correct use.
  • Use of an antibiotic ointment has not been shown to affect healing. If you choose to use an antibiotic ointment, such as polymyxin B sulfate (for example, Polysporin) or bacitracin, apply the ointment lightly to the wound. The ointment will keep the bandage from sticking to the wound. Be sure to read the product label about skin sensitivity. If a skin rash or itching under the bandage develops, stop using the ointment. The rash may mean an allergic reaction to the ointment. Antibiotic ointments that contain neomycin may have an increased risk of causing an allergic reaction.
  • Use an adhesive strip to hold the edges of a wound together. Always put an adhesive strip across a wound rather than lengthwise to hold the edges together. A butterfly bandage (made at homeClick here to see an illustration. or purchased) can help hold the skin edges together.
  • Take the dressing off and leave it off whenever you are sure the wound will not become irritated or dirty.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerDavid Messenger, MD
Last RevisedJune 10, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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