What Is an Ear Bandage?

Jillian O Keeffe

When a patient undergoes ear surgery or has an ear injury, a doctor may apply an ear bandage after the wound is clean and closed up. Ears can be more awkward than many other parts of the body when it comes to bandages, so often, the bandage is specifically designed for ears. Typically, an ear bandage includes a padded area to cover the ear itself, and a stretchy band to hold the pad on the ear.

Gauze can be used to form an ear bandage.
Gauze can be used to form an ear bandage.

A common operation on the ears is an otoplasty, which aims to change the appearance of the ears for cosmetic reasons. Adults and children who have ears that stick out from the side more than usual can have their ears pinned back. Injuries can also occur to the ear area. All of these situations either involve open wounds or require a surgeon to make incisions in the ear area.

An ear bandage may be applied after a patient undergoes ear surgery.
An ear bandage may be applied after a patient undergoes ear surgery.

Ear bandages perform several functions. The areas of skin on, or around, the ear that are broken or cut have the potential to become infected. A bandage protects the cuts from sources of contamination, such as dirt, dust and touching by the patient or other people. The pad section of the bandage, which covers the ear and the sore areas, also prevents more damage to the affected portion of the head from accidental knocks. Gauze is a common material for bandages.

Issues that can cause pain and discomfort may also arise from the injury or the surgical incision. The pad generally presses gently on the head and can reduce swelling and the appearance of bruises. Involuntary movement during sleep can also cause damage to the ear area, and the pads, held in place by the head bandage section, can protect the patient from any unnecessary pain. As ears can change position even after cosmetic procedures, the bandages also help the ears heal in the right place.

An ear bandage can have one or two padded areas, to protect one or both ears. Bandages may be commercially made in specific forms, or a doctor may create his or her own bandage from pads and lengths of gauze. In some forms of ear bandage, the stretchy band that holds the pads to the ears runs across the forehead and around the back of the head. Other forms have more material that anchors the pads even more thoroughly, with extra stretches of bandage below the chin and from the center of the forehead to the back of the head.

Protective bandages may need to stay one for about a week. Bandages that keep ears in place may be required for several weeks. When the coverings are not essential for daytime use, special nighttime ear bandages are another option.

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