Types of bandages for hands, feet, torso and skin

So there are many types of bandages available in the market in general but they are divided into various kinds. They are first classified based on the reason for application. for e.g.

  • Bandages that are applied at the site of the skin incision (aka skin cut in common language) to prevent exposure of the skin incision to the elements
  • Bandages that are applied at the site of musculoskeletal pain to provide warmth
  • Bandages that are applied at the site of fractures and other musculoskeletal problems to restrict movement of the bones at the joint
  • Bandages that are applied at the canula site
  • Bandages that are applied on burns and skin ulcers
  • Bandages applied on bed sores etc.
Types of bandages

This is a very distinct classification and these types of bandages are only used by medical professionals and doctors.

Most of us will not come in need of these kinds of bandages unless we have a specific medical problem that will require attention from a medical professional and hence we don’t need to learn about these all types in general.

The ones we will mostly encounter and will need on a daily basis at our home. These make an essential part of any first aid kit at home. They include:

  • Band aids
  • Crepe Bandages
  • Gauze Bandages
  • Cotton Bandages

Lets discuss these in detail, what are these bandages and how can we use them.

Band Aid Bandages

Band aids are very common and they are seen and found on every supermarket and departmental store. You don’t need any prescription and they are handy to use. They are mostly used to cover up small skin incisions or cuts. They have a padded area that covers up the incision spot and two adhesive strips on the sides that are stick the bandage to the skin surface.

Lets discuss what is the best practice to use these band aids.

  1. First you need to clean the site of the incision with soap and water to remove any visible dirt or debris.
  2. After doing the first step you need to clean the skin surface by using an over the counter alcohol swab or a cotton swab dipped in methylated alcohol (wood alcohol)
  3. After doing the above step you can now place the band aid with the padded area covering the site of skin infection
  4. Use the adhesive area to wrap around the sit of skin cut and press on the adhesive are so that they are not very tight.

Crepe Bandages

Crepe bandages are mostly used for two main purposes.

  • To immobilize a joint to promote healing
  • To cover an area of pain to allow warmth and to soothe the painful dermatome

Crepe bandages are mostly applied to the skin and chest and can be rolled in different ways around the area that you want to cover so as to provide decent coverage.

How to use a crepe bandage

Most commonly crepe bandages come already pre-rolled. You need to take bandage out of the packaging and release one end of the roll. Now gently roll the bandage starting below the area you want to cover and gradually moving upwards so as to prevent any swelling in the limbs from increasing. If you are applying it to the limbs or torso, first roll the bandage to first cover the starting area at least twice. They gradually move downward in a slanting fashion to cover more and more of the skin surface. When you reach the last end of the roll use a skin adhesive tape ( available at many pharmacies ) to stick the crepe bandage to the skin.

Gauze Bandages

Gauze bandages are very commonly found at various pharmacies. Medical gauzes are basically made of a bleached white woven cotton cloth. The gauze fabric is folded in multiple layers to provide adequate padding and physical barrier to the underlying infection or skin cut (incision) from the environment. Gauzes are mostly used for surgical incisions and cuts that are usually large enough that they can’t be covered by normal band aids. They can easily be applied to any surface as they are modular. They can be cut to any size and shape. They don’t come with an adhesive so you have to use a skin adhesive tape to stick it to the skin surface.

These are very versatile and can be applied to any surface area and location unlike band aids and crepes, hence they are the most commonly used dressing in the hospitals. You would always see your medical professional use this type of bandage in the majority of cases. I have attached a video illustration of using a gauze bandage below as it requires some important steps for application.

How to apply a gauze bandage

Cotton Bandages

Cotton bandages are the most simplest kind of bandages that are can be applied immediately. Most first aid kits will contain a cotton roll that is an essential item to stop the bleeding and for various other process. Generally in a clinical setting cotton dressing are not applied. This is because the cotton unwoven threads in these dressings tend to stick to the wound/incision/cut surface and may act as contaminants to provide a nidus for the growth of bacteria. Hence it is not a common finding to see cotton bandages nowadays.

Cotton bandages are generally applied by soaking the cotton from the cotton pad with an antiseptic such as pyodine (povidone Iodine) or Methylated alcohol and then placing them on the wound or incision. They are then taped with skin adhesive tape just like the other bandages i mentioned above.


So now you know what the most common types of bandages are available and used in the market. These bandages make an essential part of any at-home first aid kit and it is very important to know how to use them properly. If you study all the material in this post deeply you will have the basic knowledge of applying a first aid bandage in case of any accident or emergency till you reach your health care provider.

Learn more about home first aid topics here.

Referenced from Pubmed.

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