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An adhesive bandage, also called a sticking plaster (and also known by the genericized trademarks Band-Aid or Elastoplast) is a small dressing used for injuries not serious enough to require a full-size bandage. "Bandage" or "Band-Aid" is the common American English term, while "plaster" is the term in British English usage.
The adhesive bandage protects the cut from friction, bacteria, damage, or dirt. Thus, the healing process of the body is less disturbed. Sometimes they have antiseptic properties. An additional function is to hold the two cut ends of the skin together to make the healing process faster.
An adhesive bandage is usually covered by a woven fabric, plastic, or latex strip which has an adhesive. Adhesive bandages usually have an absorbent pad, which is sometimes medicated with an antiseptic solution. Some bandages have a thin, porous-polymer coating over the pad to keep it from sticking to the wound. The bandage is applied such that the pad covers the wound, and the fabric or plastic sticks to the surrounding skin to hold the dressing in place and prevent dirt from entering the wound.
The sticking plaster is a development from previous dressings such as the court plaster. The court plaster is a cloth coated with an adhesive substance (typically isinglass or glycerin on silk) used to cover superficial wounds or for cosmetic purposes. The name is due to the use by ladies of the court in the mid 1700s to create artificial beauty marks.
Special bandages are used by food prep workers. These are waterproof, have strong adhesive so they are less likely to fall off, and are usually bright blue in color so that it is obvious to the wearer if it has fallen off into some food. They are also detectable by special machines that are used in food manufacturing plants to ensure that food is free from foreign objects before it is shipped to the public.
Transdermal patches are adhesive bandages with the function to distribute medication through the skin, rather than protecting a wound.
Butterfly stitches are generally thin adhesive strips which can be used to close small wounds. They are applied across the laceration in a manner which pulls the skin on either side of the wound together. They are not true sutures, but can often be used in addition to, or in place of real sutures for small wounds. Butterfly stitches can be advantageous in that they do not need a medical professional to be placed or removed, and are thus a common item in first aid kits. They are made by various manufacturers under various names, including butterfly bandages, butterfly closures, wound closure strips and Steri-Strip.
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