Wound dressings and bandages are often used interchangeably in the real world, but these two items have two very distinct and different purposes. Although they may be used for the same wound or for the same areas, bandages and wound dressings have a different application design from each other.
A dressing is directly applied to the wound to prevent further harm and promote healing. These are usually designed to be in direct contact with the wound. Gauze, for example, is a type of dressing that is placed directly on a wound.
Comparably, bandages are used to hold wound dressings in place. These support medical devices. Bandages can be a part of a dressing, but it can be used on its own to provide support to the body or used with a splint. Some bandages are used to restrict blood flow, in cases of poisonous bites or heavy bleeding.
While there are organizations that use these two terms interchangeably to mean the same things, there is a difference between bandages and wound dressings.
4 Types of Dressings and Their Uses
As mentioned above, each type of dressing has a specific wound it is ideal for. Using the right type of dressing will ensure a faster healing rate and reduced chances of infections. Here are the four most common types of dressings and their uses:
Gauze dressings are the most common form of dressings as it is used widely for many injuries, and it is included in most pre-packaged first aid kits. This type of dressing can be used in multiple ways: it can be used on infected wounds, wounds that require packing, wounds that are draining, or any wound that requires very frequent dressing changes. The advantage of this dressing is its availability and affordability. However, they may need changing more frequently as they can adhere to the wound bed.
Transparent Film Dressings
Transparent film dressings allow moisture vapor to be released and allow oxygen to penetrate through the dressing to the wound. This type of dressing conforms well to the wound and can stay put for up to a week. It prevents friction against the wound bed and keeps it dry and prevents any bacterial contamination. Although perfect for many types of wounds, transparent film dressings may not be suitable for heavily draining wounds because of its occlusive nature.
With hydrocolloid dressings, they are the most effective for burns or any pressure ulcer or venous ulcers. They provide insulation to the wound bed, are waterproof and impermeable to bacteria, urine, or stool, and provide moderate absorption for exudate. However, this dressing cannot be used in the presence of infection. Sometimes, this type of dressing may roll over certain body areas that are prone to friction.
Composites are made from a combination of any of the types above and can be used as a primary or secondary dressing. This type is widely available and is simple for most professionals to use. Contrastingly, it may be more expensive and there is less flexibility in its indications for use.
There is a chance that as your experience with wounds increases, you will find more success in using a small variety of wound care products, such as dressings, that are readily available to you. It’s important to understand how dressings affect the wound bed and the healing process to create your own collection of go-to dressing to suit most wounds. It’s better to be prepared for any wound care situation!