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Bandages and Dressings

Bandages and dressings are two different things. A dressing is a material which is in direct contact with a wound, whereas a bandage is a material placed or wrapped over top of the dressing to keep it in place and absorb fluids. A wound is any damage to the body that cuts, punctures, tears or otherwise damages the skin. That could include open wounds like lacerations or closed wounds like bruises.

A dressing can have multiple purposes to keep in mind, although not all of the following apply to any given dressing. These purposes include:

  • The maintenance of high humidity where the dressing meets the wound. A dry environment can cause dehydration and cell death at the wound site. A moist environment causes wounds to heal three to five times more quickly, and also less painfully
  • The removal of excess fluids coming from the wound, including blood
  • The movement of air around the wound
  • The provision of thermal insulation
  • Impermeability to bacteria. Infection, local or systemic, can delay or impede healing. The most common complication to would healing is infection, and hemorrhage is the most serious.
  • Freedom from particles and toxic wound contaminants, so a dressing which sheds particles or fibres into the wound would not be very suitable.
  • Removal without causing trauma (such as by tearing) since trauma will worsen the wound and delay healing.