What is a Cohesive Bandage?

T. M. Robertson

A cohesive bandage is a type of bandage that adheres to itself but doesn't adhere to other surfaces, such as the skin. The most common use for cohesive bandages is to wrap limbs, and the bandages can be used on both humans and animals. Cohesive bandages are commonly found in first aid kits and can also be purchased in a variety of materials, shapes and sizes. Cohesive bandages are used to stop bleeding, immobilize joints, dress wounds, secure intravenous lines and keep surgical dressings in place. They also can help to control swelling, increase circulation, promote healing, treat ulcers and reduce inflammation.

Cohesive bandages are commonly found in first aid kits.
Cohesive bandages are commonly found in first aid kits.

Cohesive bandages are manufactured by knitting or weaving a combination of cotton, polymer yarns and latex into a stretchy gauze material. The material is lightweight, airy, durable and has great elasticity. Securing a cohesive bandage in place usually requires the use of clips or pins, but there are some adhesive bandages on the market that will function without the use of any additional fasteners. The bandages also come in a variety of colors, making them more appealing to children. Veterinarians prefer using cohesive bandages on animals because the material won't stick to hair or fur and can be easily removed.

Cohesive bandages usually wrap limbs on both humans and animals.
Cohesive bandages usually wrap limbs on both humans and animals.

When purchasing cohesive bandages, one typically will buy the material in rolls. The cohesive bandage material averages 1-6 inches (about 2.5-15.2 centimeters) in width, with 3-5 yards (about 0.9-4.6 meters) on a roll. Depending on the type and thickness of the cohesive bandage material, one can usually tear the material by hand to get the desired amount. When it cannot be torn by hand, it can be easily cut with a scissors. The bandage is flexible, breathable and comfortable to wear.

Cohesive bandages can be used to wrap sprains to reduce swelling.
Cohesive bandages can be used to wrap sprains to reduce swelling.

The uses for adhesive bandages are numerous. When using a cohesive bandage for compression, it's important for the user to regulate the tightness of the wrap. One should make sure that the bandage is tight enough to compress the area but not tight enough to cut off circulation completely.

Cohesive bandages can be purchased online, in pharmacies or at drug stores, or they can be handed out by physicians and rehabilitation specialists. The bandages are very inexpensive. When comparing cohesive bandages for purchase, one should look for the overall quality, durability, flexibility and porousness. The materials used to make the bandage should also be considered. Cotton is preferred over latex because it's more absorbent and typically doesn't cause allergic reactions.

Cohesive bandages are designed to stick to themselves but not to wounds or surrounding skin.
Cohesive bandages are designed to stick to themselves but not to wounds or surrounding skin.

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Discussion Comments


@orangey03 – My daughter's doctor uses cohesive bandages like this whenever he gives her a shot or draws blood, because she panics when she sees a sticky bandage. She is so scared of the pain of ripping one off that she refuses to wear one.

The doctor and his nurse have learned that she needs the hot pink cohesive bandage. She loves the color, and as long as she knows that is what she will be getting after the needle has been removed, she doesn't cry.

She keeps the bandage on for longer than necessary after we get home. To her, it's like pretty jewelry. It's strange how color can affect someone's perspective on something like a bandage.


My vet used a cohesive bandage on my dog's paw pad after she cut it on something. We were unable to stop the bleeding, so we had to take her in to get stitches.

Even though the stitches were in place, the vet said it was important to keep the area bandaged and keep her from moving around a lot for three days. We had to change the bandage once a day, and she gave us a roll of the material to use each time.

This type of bandage was ideal for my dog, because it was tough to chew through. It also had a bitter taste to it to deter her from trying.

She wasn't happy about being confined for three days, but she didn't complain when we changed her bandage. I think in some way, she knew it was doing her some good. It didn't cause her any pain, because it didn't pull off any of her fur when we removed it.


I love cohesive flexible bandages, because they don't restrict your movement. My daughter plays soccer, and she is always getting scrapes on her knees. I use cohesive bandages to cover her injuries, because she can still run around with them on.

One time, she did get a more serious knee injury. The doctor used a cohesive bandage, but he wrapped it tightly, because it was suppose to immobilize the area.

She had to go back to him often to have the tightness of the bandage adjusted. I think it was the only thing that kept her from hurting herself again, because she absolutely could not play soccer with it on.


Every time that a nurse draws blood from my inner elbow, she uses a cohesive bandage to secure a cotton ball to the puncture site. The bandage holds the cotton in place to stop the bleeding, and the material adheres to itself, so she doesn't have to use pins.

I prefer this type of bandage to the stick-on kind. The ones with sticky material on them can leave bruises if left on my skin for too long, but cohesive bandages never leave anything but a strange pattern behind that soon fades.

All I have to do to remove it is find the end of it and pull it up and over. It holds on tightly until you pull on it, and then it comes off fairly easily.

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