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What Is a Triangular Bandage?

Sara Schmidt
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are many different kinds of bandages available for various injuries. A triangular bandage, or a covering shaped like a triangle, can be used for many of these needs. Its applications include use in arm slings, tourniquets, compression bandages, and various dressing coverings.

Considered one of the most versatile bandages, a triangular bandage is usually made out of muslin cloth. Normally white, an average first aid bandage of this type weighs about a tenth of a pound (.05 kilograms). The size of the bandages vary, typical brands run approximately 40 inches (101.6 centimeters) by 50 inches (127 inches). Sealed in plastic, it often comes with safety pins or other securing devices to keep it in place during use.

These bandages are used for maintaining compressions or poultices on a head wound. They may be used for keeping body parts, such as shoulders, stationary during the healing process as well. Chest wound dressings may be kept in place with triangular bandages, too. Splinting broken bones, holding gauze in place, and stopping or preventing bleeding are other uses. Because of all of these uses and potentially more, this type of bandage is considered a staple in most first aid kits.

An arm sling is the most popular use for a triangular bandage. In order to create a sling, the bandage can be draped down the front of the body. One end of the triangle should be brought over the uninjured shoulder, then carried behind the neck until the end is hanging in the front of the body on the injured side.

Once the bandage is behind the elbow of the injured arm, carefully bend the arm toward the center of the bandage. Once the arm is in place, bring the other triangle end up behind the neck. Tie both ends together at the end of the shoulder, creating a knot at the side of the patient's neck.

When used for knee, foot, or head injuries, a triangular bandage should only be used as a dressing covering. These injuries are typically too severe for this type of bandage alone. Instead, they normally require more invasive bindings, such as casts.

If a triangular bandage is unavailable, a neckerchief can possibly be used. If being used as a bandage over an open wound, a neckerchief should ideally be sterilized in order to prevent infection. In an emergency, however, such a bandanna is considered preferable to no bandage at all.

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Sara Schmidt
By Sara Schmidt
With a Master's Degree in English from Southeast Missouri State University, Sara Schmidt puts her expertise to use by writing for The Health Board, plus various magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She published her own novella and has other literary projects in the works. Sara's diverse background includes teaching children in Spain, tutoring college students, running CPR and first aid classes, and organizing student retreats, reflecting her passion for education and community engagement.
Discussion Comments
By donasmrs — On May 16, 2014

@ysmina-- Triangular bandages are not always sterile and they do not have adhesive. So they are not used directly over a wound or injury for this reason. They are usually used to wrap over a sterile gauze or bandage, to both keep it clean and also to apply some pressure. The pressure is useful when there is bleeding involved as it helps to control that. It's usually used to wrap the head.

And yes, many people also use triangular bandage for makeshift slings but triangular bandages are only temporarily useful as slings since they're not very durable. So the sling will have to be renewed after some time. The same goes for using triangular bandages over wounds. It has to be renewed periodically.

By ysmina — On May 15, 2014

I don't understand what makes a triangular bandage, a bandage. It's just thin fabric in a triangular shape with safety pins.

By SarahGen — On May 15, 2014

I keep triangular bandages at home, mostly to use for arm slings, although I have also used them before as an ankle wrap or compression.

When I have an issue with my arm or hand, like a sprain, I try to immobilize it because it speeds up healing and reduces pain. Using a triangular bandage is really the easiest and cheapest way to do this. There are special slings sold out there for the arm but they cost a lot and I find them uncomfortable. Triangular bandages are very affordable and I think everyone needs to have this in their medicine cabinet or first aid kit.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt
With a Master's Degree in English from Southeast Missouri State University, Sara Schmidt puts her expertise to use by writing for The Health Board, plus various magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She published her own novella and has other literary projects in the works. Sara's diverse background includes teaching children in Spain, tutoring college students, running CPR and first aid classes, and organizing student retreats, reflecting her passion for education and community engagement.
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