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What is a Gauze Dressing?

Anna T.
Updated Jan 30, 2024
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A gauze dressing is typically used to cover wounds for the purpose of helping them heal faster and preventing infection or further injury. Gauze is usually in the form of woven or non-woven cloth, and it is typically placed over the top of an open wound. Another type of bandage or medical tape may be used to hold the dressing in place until the wound heals. Unlike a traditional bandage, gauze does not normally stick to the skin. This means that pulling it off is not usually painful for the person who is wounded.

In most cases, a dressing must be changed periodically to keep a wound clean and to help it heal properly. Gauze that is left on too long will likely have already absorbed all the moisture it can and will probably no longer be able to serve the purpose of helping a wound heal and keeping it clean. The frequency with which a dressing must be changed typically depends on the severity and size of the wound, as well as what type of gauze is used to cover it. A gauze dressing must almost always be changed out at least as often as a person showers or bathes.

Most people think of a gauze dressing as being attached to a roll, but it actually comes in many other forms. In addition to rolls and small strips, gauze is available in sponge and pad form. Gauze can also be either woven or non-woven, and may be either dry or pre-moistened. Some of the things that manufacturers occasionally use to pre-moisten gauze are antiseptic ointments or gels that might help to speed along the healing process. Dressing that comes dry may additionally be manually moistened with these substances by the person who is applying the dressing.

Applying a gauze dressing typically involves thoroughly cleaning the wounded area with warm, soapy water. A person also needs to be sure that her hands are clean before attempting to apply the dressing. After using soap and water, the wounded area needs to be cleaned again with a sterile pad or saline solution to be sure that all bacteria is eliminated from the site of the injury. The gauze pad then normally goes on first, followed by some adhesive tape. After the tape is put in place, many people add another layer of gauze or a larger bandage to cover the entire area to help keep the dressing from coming loose.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Anna T.
By Anna T.
Anna Thurman is a skilled writer who lends her talents to WiseGeek. Her ability to research and present information in an engaging and accessible manner allows her to create content that resonates with readers across a wide range of subjects.
Discussion Comments
By andee — On Aug 29, 2011

One of the most important things about using a gauze dressing pad is to make sure it stays clean and sterile.

If the cut or wound has much drainage, you will want to make sure and change the gauze dressing on a regular basis.

Each time I change a gauze dressing I will also apply some more antibiotic cream to help with the healing process.

By julies — On Aug 28, 2011

One of the things I like best about a gauze bandage is that it doesn't stick to your skin so it doesn't hurt when you have to remove it.

I will always use this whenever possible on my kids because it means less tears and whining. Whenever I have used any kind of sticky bandage that needs to be removed, they are never very happy with me.

It doesn't matter how fast or slow that bandage is removed, it still hurts. Using a gauze dressing makes a big difference and also gives the wound some breathing room.

Anna T.
Anna T.
Anna Thurman is a skilled writer who lends her talents to WiseGeek. Her ability to research and present information in an engaging and accessible manner allows her to create content that resonates with readers across a wide range of subjects.
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