#Health & Fitness

Wound Wisdom: The Best Bandage for Every Boo-Boo

by Gwendolen Fairfax

Wound Wisdom: The Best Bandage for Every Boo-Boo
Shop Story

So you’ve gone and injured yourself—again. If you’re like most people, your medicine cabinet is full of bandages, gauze, tape, and various injury treatments that you probably don’t even remember buying. Which to use? It might seem like it doesn’t matter, but it does. By choosing the right one for every scratch and scrape, you can vastly increase your comfort and even speed your healing. And if none of these seem like enough to handle your injury, you might want to consider getting to a hospital.


1 of 10 Image Credits: Walgreens

The Basic Bandage


Whether you choose old-fashioned plastic, flexible fabric, transparent, or a waterproof version, a standard adhesive bandage is best for small, simple wounds like nonbleeding punctures, small burns, or scratches that aren’t bleeding profusely. They’re best on areas where the skin doesn’t stretch or flex; use them to cover a small burn on the arm, but not on the elbow or over a knuckle. Don’t use regular bandages on any wounds that require compression or are bleeding heavily.

2 of 10 Image Credits: Drugstore

Medicated Bandages


A bandage with antibiotic ointment on the pad is used for the same kinds of simple, nonbleeding, nongaping wounds as a standard bandage, but the presence of an antibiotic helps to minimize scarring by keeping the wound moist and preventing scabbing. Use them on visible parts of the body where you might want to avoid a scar.

3 of 10 Image Credits: Walgreens

Butterfly Closures


Use a butterfly bandage on any wound that needs to be pulled together to heal, like deeper cuts with smooth, regular edges. The middle of a butterfly bandage is nonadhesive to prevent it from sticking to wounds. Cuts that are bleeding may require compression first, and since butterfly closures are used on wounds that gape, it’s often best to cover them with a gauze pad or a large, flat bandage.

4 of 10 Image Credits: Drugstore

Large Adhesive Pad


Large, flat pads are best for injuries like burns or scrapes on broad, flat areas of the body. They have the same limitations as a small adhesive bandage—they can’t provide compression or close a wound—but they are good choices for bigger-surface injuries on nonmobile areas.

5 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

Blister Bandages


These waterproof, hydrocolloid pads absorb fluid from blisters, sores, and other seeping wounds, to draw the fluid away from the wound and promote healing in a sterile environment. A strong adhesive keeps the bandage on for several days to keep out germs and bacteria.

6 of 10 Image Credits: Drugstore

Dot Bandages


Best for small, non-bleeding puncture wounds like pinpricks or insect stings, these bandages are discreet and unobtrusive.

7 of 10 Image Credits: First Aid Supplies Online

Spray Bandage


Use a spray bandage on minor scrapes or burns that are dry, clean, and not bleeding. The antiseptic spray creates a breathable barrier to infection, and benzocaine relieves pain.

8 of 10 Image Credits: Drugstore

Liquid Bandage


On areas that flex and stretch or are don’t fit a regular bandage (like knuckles, toes, feet, between the fingers, and fingertips), a liquid bandage creates an antiseptic, waterproof seal that’s flexible and durable. It’s also good for small cuts and incisions that need only minor help to close.

9 of 10 Image Credits: Walgreens

Finger Cots


Keeping a bandage on an injured finger can prove tricky when it comes time to wash dishes, use the bathroom, shower, or take on other wet or dirty tasks. Finger cots slip on over bandages to provide temporary protection from moisture or germs

10 of 10 Image Credits: Drugstore



One step up from butterfly bandages, steri-strips are used to hold longer or deeper incisions closed while they heal. Some doctors use them instead of doing stitches, and the surgical-grade tape keeps the edges of the wound together to minimize scarring.