What Are Common Bandaging Techniques?

Cindy Quarters
Cindy Quarters
A medical professional wrapping a person's knee with an elastic bandage.
A medical professional wrapping a person's knee with an elastic bandage.

Bandaging of an injury is performed for many different reasons. It is an important way to control and prevent excessive blood loss. Various bandaging techniques are also used to minimize swelling and provide support to an injured area. Certain types of wrapping have been found to be the most effective, such as figure-eight and pressure bandages. The specific techniques used depend on the type and location of the injury.

Gauze pads may be used to stop heavy bleeding.
Gauze pads may be used to stop heavy bleeding.

A figure-eight bandage using either a roll of gauze or an elastic wrap is probably the most commonly used of the various joint bandaging techniques. It is usually applied to a joint such as the wrist, elbow or ankle. The bandage is first secured by wrapping it around a straight section of the arm or leg above the injury. It is then brought down below the injured area, looped halfway around and brought back up to the starting point, creating an eight. This is repeated until the injury is stabilized.

Rolled gauze can be used in figure-eight wrapping.
Rolled gauze can be used in figure-eight wrapping.

Spiral wrapping is one of the bandaging techniques that is often used for arms and legs. It can be done with either an elastic bandage or with gauze. This method starts with anchoring the bandage by wrapping it over itself so that it is held securely in place, usually below the injury. The bandage is then wrapped upward around the limb in a spiral pattern, with the new layer of bandage covering about half of the previous layer. The bandaging continues until the injury is well-covered.

Spiral wrapping is one of the bandaging techniques that is often used for arms and legs.
Spiral wrapping is one of the bandaging techniques that is often used for arms and legs.

For an injury that involves a lot of bleeding, one of the most useful bandaging techniques is the combination of a spiral wrap with a thick layer of gauze or other suitable material to create a pressure bandage. Pressure is often the best way to get a wound to stop bleeding, or at least to slow it down. A pad of gauze or cloth can be used. A new feminine sanitary napkin is also a good choice for covering a bleeding wound, as it is highly absorbent and essentially germ-free. The absorbent material is applied directly to the wound, then a spiral wrap is used to hold it in place.

In the absence of trauma dressing, sanitary napkins may be used to stem the flow of blood.
In the absence of trauma dressing, sanitary napkins may be used to stem the flow of blood.

Whatever type of bandaging techniques are used, it is important to make sure that the bandage is not wrapped so tightly that it interferes with circulation. The limb below the wrap should be checked often to make sure it is still warm and pink. This is especially important when using an elastic bandage, as it is easy to wrap one too tightly. If circulation is cut off serious damage can result, possibly causing permanent damage.

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Discussion Comments

Wisedly33

@Scrbblchick -- OK. That's cool. Really cool. I would probably have a massive come-apart and wouldn't be able to do anything except scream like a banshee. I'm a wimp. I admit it.

I would like to take a real field first aid class, though. I know some of the community education type classes don't really teach you how to do things that actually work, except CPR.

Our local college is offering the first section of EMT training, which covers all the real first aid, and I'm thinking about taking it. I don't want to be an EMT, but it certainly would be good to know how to really help myself or someone else, in the event of an accident.

Scrbblchick

We had to learn to wrap bandages in our first aid unit in JROTC in high school. It's probably one of the most useful things I learned in high school. We practiced on the CPR dummy and on each other, which was fun.

It sure enough came in handy a few years later. I was in a wreck and had a couple of pretty bad cuts on my arm. I had a first aid kit in the car and was able to bandage my arm myself, using a compression bandage. It held until we got to the ER and the EMTs were impressed that I knew how to do it. I said everyone should take JROTC first aid. You really learn the technique.

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    • A medical professional wrapping a person's knee with an elastic bandage.
      By: Gennadiy Poznyakov
      A medical professional wrapping a person's knee with an elastic bandage.
    • Gauze pads may be used to stop heavy bleeding.
      By: Stocksnapper
      Gauze pads may be used to stop heavy bleeding.
    • Rolled gauze can be used in figure-eight wrapping.
      By: rikaphoto
      Rolled gauze can be used in figure-eight wrapping.
    • Spiral wrapping is one of the bandaging techniques that is often used for arms and legs.
      By: wellphoto
      Spiral wrapping is one of the bandaging techniques that is often used for arms and legs.
    • In the absence of trauma dressing, sanitary napkins may be used to stem the flow of blood.
      By: lukasmajercik
      In the absence of trauma dressing, sanitary napkins may be used to stem the flow of blood.