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What is a White Bandage?

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  • Written By: Meghan Cunningham
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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A white bandage is a piece of material, which can vary in width and length, and is rolled into a tube. Not to be confused with a dressing, a bandage is secured over a dressing to keep it in place. Bandages can also be used to secure a splint to an injured limb, fashioned into a "donut," for wounds that cannot be compressed, or keep an impaled object in place. White bandages are often white because they are usually made from single- or double-ply cotton gauze.

Available in a variety of widths and lengths, white bandages are commonly found from 2 to 4 inches (5.08 to 10.16 cm) in width and 2 to 4 yards (1.82 to 3.65 m) in length. Rolled into small tubes and sealed into sterile plastic bags, a white bandage is flexible and soft. It is an important tool in any first aid or medical kit.

When covering a wound, a dressing is usually the first layer of material applied. A dressing, usually made of cotton gauze squares, is placed over the wound. A white bandage is then used to secure the dressing in place and apply compression, or pressure, if needed to stop blood flow.

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White bandages can be used for other purposes. In the event of certain types of snake bites, such as that of a coral snake, a white bandage can be used to create a compression wrap that prevents venom from spreading from the bite site. In addition, a white bandage is useful when securing a splint in place; it can gently hold the splint to a broken bone, for example, helping it to remain stable.

A "donut" can also be made using a white bandage. When wound into a tight ring that looks like a donut, a bandage can be used in the treatment for different injuries. For example, if someone has an open head wound, a rescuer should not apply pressure to that wound, so he or she may make a donut and place hole over the wound, allowing the edge to decrease or collect blood flow.

Similarly, a white bandage donut may be useful for keeping an impaled object from moving. Again, the hole is placed over the object, such as a knife in the chest or a pencil in a hand. The donut not only decreases blood flow, but it also prevents the object from moving or shifting and potentially causing more harm.

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