Types of Bandages & How to Choose

Over-the-counter bandages and adhesive medical strips provide a convenient way to promote the healing of minor cuts and scrapes. They can help to reduce discomfort1, absorb fluid from the healing wound, and protect the wound from debris and bacteria2. Selecting the appropriate type of bandage can provide additional protection and help speed up the healing process.

Types of Bandages & Uses

There are several different types of bandages to suit a wide variety of needs. You should select the type of bandage that offers a shape and material you like or that is designed to help heal the kind of wound you have. Below are some of the most common types of bandages that are likely to be found on grocery and pharmacy shelves.

Shapes and Sizes

Strip Bandages: Strip bandages are small squares of non-stick gauze fastened to a narrow adhesive strip that comes in a variety of materials, sizes, and styles.

BAND-AID® SKIN-FLEX® Bandages – Made with durable and flexible material that can move with the body for a snug fit and wound protection.

Knuckle & Fingertip Bandages: Finger and knuckle bandages have a unique shape made to wrap around the finger to provide a good seal even with frequent hand movement. You can also use a fingertip or knuckle bandage for an injured toe.

BAND-AID® Flexible Fabric Knuckle & Fingertip Bandages – Are specially designed bandages shaped to fi snugly over fingertips and knuckles for wound protection in hard-to-cover places.

Sheer & Clear Bandages: Sheer bandages are designed to provide discreet wound protection with good breathability for increased comfort. Clear bandages have a transparent adhesive that blends into the appearance of any skin tone.

BAND-AID® TRU-STAY™ Sheer Strips COMFORT-FLEX® Adhesive Bandages – Made with a lightweight adhesive and quilted non-stick gauze to offer durable yet sheer protection.


Fabric Bandages: Fabric bandages can offer more reliability than plastic or foam bandages in conditions that require a lot of movement.
BAND-AID® Flexible Fabric Bandages– Designed with a unique MEMORY WEAVE® fiber blend that acts like a second skin and dries quickly when wet.

Gauze: Gauze pads are another kind of material that can be used for hard-to-bandage areas and can also be used as a primary dressing for wound care and first aid.

BAND-AID® Flexible Rolled Gauze Large – This first aid gauze is designed with a special KLING® technology, so it can secure to itself to stay in place, even in hard to cover areas. Stretches and secures to itself for freedom of movement.

Waterproof Bandages

Waterproof bandages use hydrophobic adhesives that provide increased protection against external moisture.

BAND-AID® WATER BLOCK FLEX™ Adhesive Bandages – Are designed with a waterproof material with a four-sided seal that helps lock out dirt and germs whilst keeping wounds clean and dry.

Hydrocolloid Bandages

Innovative hydrocolloid gel bandages create a moist healing environment3 that helps to prevent scab formation while drawing fluids out of the wound which can be seen as a white bubble forming under the bandage.

BAND-AID® HYDRO SEAL™ Advanced Healing Bandages – Are designed with a patented hydrocolloid technology that offers a double-sided seal to help keep germs out and and the body’s natural healing power in.

Medicated Bandages

Medicated bandages are pre-treated with an antibiotic solution, eliminating the need to apply additional ointment to the wound before covering.

BAND-AID® With Polysporin® Infection Defense™ Bandages – Polysporin® antibiotic ointment is infused into the bandage pad for extra-strength bacterial defense.

How to Choose the Right Type of Bandage

The bandage you choose should fit the kind of wound you have, your skin, and your daily activities. Keep in mind how and where you will wear the bandages and don’t be afraid to try more than one type of bandage to make sure you get the right one.

Wound type and size.

Select a bandage that is large or small enough to cover the size of your wound. For example, don't choose a burn bandage for a cut. Instead, choose the best bandage for an open wound.

Skin type.

Certain types of bandage adhesives can cause redness, itching, and even blistering in severe cases5. If you have sensitive skin or are allergic to adhesives, look for a skin-friendly bandage material such as the BAND-AID® SKIN-FLEX Gentle Care bandages made for delicate skin.

Location of the wound.

Choose a bandage that will work for the placement of your wound, like on a knuckle or knee. Look for a combination of size, shape, and material flexibility when selecting a bandage type for parts of the body that move a lot.

Bandage durability.

Select bandages designed to withstand more wear and tear if you work outdoors or in wet environments. For example, fabric bandages are likely to hold up better for someone who works with their hands than plastic bandages that don’t have as much give.

Hydrocolloid technology.

Choose a hydrocolloid bandage for wounds that will heal better in a moist and clean environment. You can also use this type of bandage to “draw” out fluids from small wounds and clogged pores6.

Adhesive strength.

Select a bandage with the appropriate adhesive strength to provide you with all-day protection.

How to Apply Bandages

Poor handling of a bandage during the application process can transfer bacteria onto the sterile bandage and potentially increasing the risk for infection and delay healing. It’s important to know how to treat your wound before applying the bandage for proper wound healing. Always read and follow the label of the bandage you are using.

  • Wash your hands before touching your wound.
  • Stop the bleeding by applying gentle pressure with a sterile gauze pad or clean cloth.
  • Clean your wound with mild soap and water, and pat dry with a gauze pad or clean cloth after.
  • Treat the area to prevent infection with an antibiotic ointment such as POLYSPORIN® Original Antibiotic Ointment. Protect the affected area and help it heal by covering it with an adhesive bandage that works best for the wounded area such as strip bandages, knuckle and fingertip bandages or hydrocolloid bandages.


It’s important to have adhesive bandages and other first-aid items on hand in case of a minor injury. Bandages can be convenient to use and provide pain relief and wound protection9, allowing you to go back to your daily activities quickly. Keep bandages in your bathroom or first-aid kit and carry them with you in a purse or pocket so you can immediately cover and protect small cuts or scrapes.


  1. Cleveland Clinic -- https://health.clevelandclinic.org/cover-wound-air
  2. California Science & Engineering Fair -- http://csef.usc.edu/History/2006/Projects/J1405.pdf
  3. Science Direct -- https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemistry/hydrocolloid
  4. PubMed -- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8509607
  5. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology -- https://www.aaaai.org/allergist-resources/ask-the-expert/answers/old-ask-the-experts/adhesives
  6. Healthline -- https://www.healthline.com/health-news/do-those-pimple-stickers-actually-work
  7. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety -- https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/diseases/washing_hands.html
  8. https://www.polysporin.ca/products/antibiotic-original-ointment
  9. American Family Physician -- https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2002/0715/p315.html