Adhesive bandage

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Typical adhesive bandage
Reverse of an adhesive bandage, showing backing
Opened adhesive bandage, showing the non-adhesive absorbent pad, adhesive area (colored) and backing (peeled back)

An adhesive bandage, also called a sticking plaster (or simply plaster) in British English, is a small medical dressing used for injuries not serious enough to require a full-size bandage. They are also known by the genericized trademarks Band-Aid (as "band-aid" or "band aid" in the US) or Elastoplast (in the UK).


The adhesive bandage protects the wound and scab from friction, bacteria, damage, and dirt. Thus, the healing process of the body is less disturbed. Some of the dressings have antiseptic properties. An additional function is to hold the two cut ends of the skin together to make the healing process faster.[1]


An adhesive bandage is a small, flexible sheet of material which is sticky on one side, with a smaller, non-sticky, absorbent pad stuck to the sticky side. The pad is placed against the wound, and overlapping edges of the sticky material are smoothed down so they stick to the surrounding skin. Adhesive bandages are generally packaged in a sealed, sterile bag, with a backing covering the sticky side; the backing is removed as the bandage is applied. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes.


A hydrogel dressing. An entirely transparent adhesive bandage, with a transparent hydrogel pad and adhesive waterproof plastic film (removable backing is blue and white).

The backing and bag are often made of coated paper, but may be made of plastic.

The adhesive sheet is usually a woven fabric, plastic (PVC, polyethylene or polyurethane), or latex strip. It may or may not be waterproof; if it is airtight, the bandaid is an occlusive dressing. The adhesive is commonly an acrylate, including methacrylates and epoxy diacrylates (which are also known as vinyl resins).[2]

The absorbent pad is often made of cotton, and there is sometimes a thin, porous-polymer coating over the pad, to keep it from sticking to the wound. The pad may also be medicated with an antiseptic solution. In some bandages, the pad is made of a water-absorbing hydrogel. This is especially common in dressings used on blisters, as the gel acts as a cushion.[medical citation needed]

Many people have allergies to some of these materials, particularly latex and some adhesives.[3]


To prevent inflammation the wound is rinsed with tap water before applying the plaster and may also be treated with a disinfectant. In areas without reliable water treatment systems it is common to boil the water to sterilise it. Applying iodine or a similar ointment can facilitate the painless removal of the plaster lateron. [4]

Wounds will heal faster in a moderately moist environment. To much moisture will soak, macerate and possibly lead to an inflammation of the surrounding skin. Plasters consisting of various materials of bandage sheet and absorbent pad are available to match the amount of moisture emitted by the wound.

Changing the plaster regularly will remove dead skin and residue from the wound and facilitates the inspection of the moisture content.[5].


A wound held closed with butterfly closures.

Special bandages are used by food preparation workers. These are waterproof, have strong adhesive so they are less likely to fall off, and are usually blue so that they are more clearly visible in food. Some include a metal strip detectable by machines used in food manufacturing to ensure that food is free from foreign objects.[6]

Transdermal patches are adhesive bandages with the function to distribute medication through the skin, rather than protecting a wound.[7]

Butterfly closures, also known as 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.[8]

Notable brands[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Code of Federal Regulations Title 21". April 1, 2015. Retrieved September 9, 2015. 
  2. ^ Daniel More, MD. "Allergy to Bandages and Adhesives". Health. 
  3. ^ Daniel More, MD. "Allergic Reactions to Adhesive Bandages". Health. 
  4. ^ Irene Berres: Mythos oder Medizin - Brauchen Wunden Luft oder Pflaster?, article on the treatment of small wounds in German, Spiegel Online, 9.9.2013
  5. ^ Wolfgang Vanscheidt: Wundheilung - Feucht ist besser, analysis of wound healing processes in German, Pharmazeutische Zeitung, Ausgabe 29/2010
  6. ^ "Blue Detectable Plasters". 
  7. ^ Segal, Marian. "Patches, Pumps and Timed Release: New Ways to Deliver Drugs". Food and Drug Administration. Archived from the original on 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 
  8. ^ "How do I apply butterfly stitches?". 

External links[edit]

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