What is an Elastic Adhesive Bandage?

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  • Written By: Alice D.
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2019
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An elastic adhesive bandage is a bandage made of flexible elasticized fabric designed to cling to itself. It is most often used for compression on sprains, strains, and contusions to limit swelling and reduce internal bleeding. These bandages are also used to secure ice packs or heat packs on an injured body part. They are even used at spas to secure body wraps.

The adhesive quality of the elastic adhesive bandage typically makes it easy to work with. A bandage usually will remain securely in place without loosening or shifting. It clings to itself and not to skin or hair, thereby usually making removal simple and painless.

These bandages are usually made of stretch nylon and rayon. Some of them have a cotton backing to make them more comfortable. Most of them use latex to give them elasticity. There are latex-free varieties available, so it can be important for a person to read the label carefully and choose the one with the most appropriate materials. Generally, they are washable and reusable.


Athletic supply stores and stores that carry first-aid supplies will usually have a wide variety of elastic adhesive bandages in widths from 2 to 4 inches (about 5.08 to 10.16 cm). Elastic bandages typically come in various sizes for different body areas. For example, the 2 or 3 inch (about 5.08 to 7.62 cm) width would work best on a hand or foot. The 4 inch (about 10.16 cm) size would be better for a larger area of the arm or leg. Since athletes use these bandages so much, they are even available in a range of colors so that athletes can coordinate their bandages with their uniforms.

Bandaging is as much an art as it is a science. Care must be taken to not apply an elastic adhesive bandage so tightly that it will inhibit the flow of blood. It should be tight enough to decrease swelling but not tight enough to cut off circulation. Since these bandages cling to themselves, they do not loosen up over time; therefore, it can be quite important for a person to apply them properly the fist time.

Few human body parts are perfectly symmetrical. For example, the ankle bone sticks outs from the ankle and the arm narrows at the wrist. An elastic adhesive bandage typically can move and stretch to conform to the different shapes of the body.

A sock or washcloth can be used to fill out any hollow areas before an elastic adhesive bandage is applied. To apply the bandage, people typically should begin to wrap from beneath the injured area and work their way up, wrapping securely but not tightly. The bandage should not be pulled so tight that it is stretched out as far as it can go. It usually is important for a person to regularly check for signs that the bandage is too tight. If the injured area turns bluish, tingles, loses feeling, or feels cold, then the bandage typically needs to be adjusted.


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Post 4

I use elastic adhesive bandages a lot because I'm very active. The self-adhesive ones are great because I hate having to deal with safety pins or clips. I just don't recommend the elastic bandages with the velcro ends because the velcro does not last long. It usually rips off after several uses or fails to stick.

Post 3

@ysmina-- I'm not a doctor but I don't think that's a good idea simply because the elastic, adhesive bandage will not allow your wound to breathe. As far as I know, the wound needs to have enough exposure to air, while also being kept clean to heal quickly and without complications. I think elastic bandage will compress it too much and since there are many layers, the wound will not get any air and will not heal.

Elastic adhesive bandages are mostly used after sports injuries for compression. Compression reduces blood flow to the area so that inflammation goes down. So if there is a strain or sprain, an elastic bandage will help with recovery. This type of bandage is not meant to be used as a cover for dressing on open wounds. I think you need to use cotton fabric, breathable surgical bandage. You should ask your doctor for the best advice on what to use.

Post 2

Can I use an elastic adhesive bandage over dressing to keep it clean? I've been using bandage tape but the tape is a pain to remove and I need to change the dressing on my wound daily. I want to keep the dressing in place and clean throughout the day and change it easily the next morning.

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