Fingertip bandages, sometimes known as butterfly bandages, are a type of wound dressing specifically designed to adhere securely to the contours of a fingertip. Their hourglass shape allows them to fold around the rounded tip without creating awkward creases or affecting adhesion. When folded, it usually creates a thimble-like cap.
These products are usually made of cloth or some other elastic, pliable material. Their porous weave and flexibility allow fingers to breathe, while also enabling the bandage to wrap securely around the fingertip without sacrificing strength or durability. A non-toxic adhesive typically coats the inner surface, to allow it to stick to the skin. Some bandages also use a thick padding of sterile, absorbent gauze, while others use only the bandage material itself to absorb blood and other fluids.
Since they come in many sizes, fingertip bandages can be applied in numerous situations. The most obvious is to accommodate the varying thicknesses of fingertips and thumb-tips, and the varying finger sizes of adults and children. The bandages can also be used on the palms and balls of hands, where it will fit to the contours of the hand but not loosen or fall off with repeated folding, crumpling, or stretching as the hand moves.
The materials typically used in fingertip bandages can also be found in other specially-shaped bandages that require flexibility or porousness. This can include shoulder bandages, arm bandages, leg bandages, and eye bandages. Their woven material conforms to limbs and facial areas that generally involve a great deal of bending and mobility, and can be wrapped for additional security.
Alternatives to fingertip bandages can include liquid bandages, which can be sprayed or applied directly to a wound to form a sterile sealant that contours directly to the skin. Cohesive bandages and crepe bandages are other viable alternatives. These can be cut or shaped to fit the injured area and, with a strong enough adhesive, do not require wrapping as fingertip bandages normally do.
Butterfly bandages are a common staple in many first aid kits, and even in hospital environments. They can be purchased over-the-counter in most convenience, drug, and grocery stores — and are usually found in the health or personal care sections. While fingertip bandages can be useful, they are meant only for the treatment of minor wounds and surface cuts, or as emergency first aid. More severe injuries often require a consultation with and care of a physician.