What's the Difference Between Wound Dressing and Bandages?

Written by QuickMedical on Monday December 12, 2011

[largest">Dear QM:[/largest">

[largest">I notice you have sections on your website for dressings and bandages. I always thought they were basically the same thing. Is there a difference? What's the difference? Please clarify this![/largest">

It can be confusing, but dressings and bandages are different things, technically. Click ahead for the answer to this question from QuickMedical, your online source for medical equipment and supply questions and answers.

The distinction between a dressing and a bandage is fairly simple. A dressing is applied to a wound to promote healing and prevent further harm. A dressing is designed to be in direct contact with the wound.

A bandage, on the other hand, is classified as something used to hold a dressing in place. While some health organizations classify them as the same thing and the terms are used interchangeably by some people, there is a difference.

Bandages support medical devices. A bandage can be used as part of a dressing, but it can also be used with a splint, or it can be used on its own to provide support to the body. Bandages can be used to restrict the flow of blood. During heavy bleeding or following a poisonous bite this is important. Bandages are available in a wide range of types, from generic cloth strips, to specialized shaped bandages designed for a specific limb or part of the body (like knuckle adhesive bandages). Bandages can often be improvised as the situation demands, using clothing, blankets or other material.

Adhesive bandages are commonly called band-aids even though this is a trademarked name for a certain type of adhesive bandage. Both sheer plastic bandages and fabric adhesive bandages might look like band-aids, but they are actually specialized bandages for particular medical needs.

Whether you need a dressing or a bandage, make sure you get the right medical supplies from QuickMedical. You can always call or leave a comment here on the blog to make sure that you've chosen the appropriate product. All medical supplies are not the same, and dressings are not bandages.