How to bandage wounds

Stock your first aid cabinet with adhesive bandages in various sizes and shapes, rolls of gauze in 1- and 2-inch widths, gauze pads, 1/2-inch surgical adhesive tape, and several widths of elastic wrapping bandages. Also consider adding flexible fabric bandages and butterfly bandages. This assortment should equip you to bandage minor wounds and to provide protection in more serious situations until medical help can be found.

There are two reasons for bandaging minor wounds: to close a cut so that bleeding will stop and the edges will heal neatly, and to keep a wound clean and free of infection. Before bandaging any cut, scrape, or puncture, see Bleeding and Wounds.

Bandages should be changed at least once a day or whenever soiled or wet. By the end of 1 week, most cuts are sufficiently healed so that bandaging is no longer necessary. Minor cuts and wounds For a cut that is bleeding very little or has stopped bleeding, use an adhesive bandage. Choose one the right size and shape for the injury. The gauze should cover the entire wound; otherwise, in removing the bandage, you may reopen the cut or pull off the scab. A flexible fabric bandage (an adhesive bandage with stretchy tape) is more comfortable on an elbow, finger, or toe.

After cleaning and drying the area, wrap or pull the bandage fairly tightly to close blood vessels. Within an hour, clotting will prevent further bleeding and you can take off the first bandage. Replace it with a clean one more loosely applied to permit circulation.