What is a White Bandage?

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  • Written By: Meghan Cunningham
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2019
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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.


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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