Adhesive Bandages

Thursday, 28 May 2009 | Tags: , , , ,

Adhesive bandages (commonly known by the brand name BandAids) can keep wounds clean, help the healing process, and reduce scarring. We find out if just any old bandage will do.

The Basics

  • A man name Earle Dickinson invented adhesive bandages for his accident-prone wife, who often nicked her hand or burned her finger working at home. Dickson worked for Johnson & Johnson and in 1921 the first Band-Aids hit the market. They were not an immediate success, but today over 100 billion copies of his invention have been sold.

  • Bandages must keep wounds clean and absorb any excess blood or fluid from the cut. A good bandage should have four major features:

    • Sterile, to prevent infection.

    • Porous, to allow air to get through and promote healing.

    • The right size for the wound it is meant to cover.

    • Non-stick, so it does not hurt when it is taken off. If the band-aid is on the hand or a less-sensitive and more used area, you may want something that sticks for a while.

  • Adhesive bandages only work if used correctly. First the wound should be cleaned with soap and water. If it is a deep puncture or muscle wound, a doctor should be consulted. The bandages should be changed daily after bathing.

  • Depending on where the wound is on the body, and how active the person is, different bandages work better than others:

    • Fabric have better adherence than plastic but leaves behind lots of sticky residue on the skin.

    • Waterproof are good for the hands and other areas that are wet repeatedly.

    • Flexible are good for areas in constant motion like knees, elbows, etc.

    • Antibiotic are good for deep puncture wounds, dirty cuts, or those prone to infection. For most cuts, a good wash with soap and water with a regular bandage is fine.

    • Aloe/Vitamin E are good for minor burns and have a soothing effect.

    • Liquid is completely waterproof, flexible, breathable, non-toxic.

    • Novelty can come in clear, coloured and cartooned.

  • Ultimately you don’t need anything fancy so long as it protects the wound and keeps the moisture close to the skin.

Be Aware

  • Some people are allergic to the latex or glue in bandages. Those labelled sensitive or hypoallergenic have a special low allergy adhesive.


We found some active kids to help us test out 6 different brands of bandages.

Longevity Test

Each of the testers put one type of bandage on their left hand and knee and another type on their right, then played their hearts out to put them to the test

  • The Curad Ouchless bandage came off early. It’s good for large scrapes or young children that cannot stand the pain of removal, but they do not stick around for long.

  • The rest of our test products all stayed on equally well, but taking them off is another matter.

Ouch Test

We used the same bandages minus the liquid one on ourselves (we didn’t want to torture the kids!) and then ripped them off to see how much it hurt:

  • The Elastoplast sensitive brand was the least painful

  • The BandAid Tough Strips really were tough to remove. Ouch!

  • Everything else was somewhere in the middle.


Elastoplast fabric bandages stay in place, yet come off easily when you want them to, and are reasonably priced, making them one of the best choices we tested.


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