What is a Tubular Bandage?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A tubular bandage is a knit bandage with a tubular shape people can wear over an extremity to secure a dressing. This type of bandage provides support for the soft tissue around the wound and is more comfortable to wear than other types of bandaging. Part of a patient's wound care regimen will include regular removal of the dressing and bandage, and replacement with fresh ones to prevent infection and cut down on odors and leakage. Many drug stores carry this bandage design and it is also possible to receive a supply directly from a doctor.

A tubular compression bandage can be used to improve circulation and speed the healing of a leg ulcer.
A tubular compression bandage can be used to improve circulation and speed the healing of a leg ulcer.

Many companies make latex-free tubular bandage products to address allergy concerns. Cotton and a variety of other fibers are available for use in the knit and the company may leave the material plain or dye it in a variety of colors. Some companies make a range of flesh tones so the bandage will not be as obvious and products for children may come with colorful designs like stripes or animal prints. The bandage itself is highly elastic, and usually a tube can fit limbs of a variety of diameters, although larger and smaller products are available for people at extremes of the spectrum.

The tubular bandage does not require pins, tape, wrapping, or other fastenings. It fits snugly over the dressing on the affected limb, without constricting circulation. Patients may find this more comfortable than a wrapping. Usually, patients retain joint flexibility with the bandage because they can still bend and straighten in comfort without worrying about irritation from the bandage. The tubular design offers even compression all the way around the site, and provides ample support.

People can use a variety of dressings under a tubular bandage. The dressing should not migrate, but people can tape it if they have concerns. If material starts to leak through to the outer layer of the bandage, it is definitely time for a change. Patients who notice an unusual rate of seepage, strong odors, or changes in the color of the wound should contact a doctor to discuss the situation.

If a patient is not sure whether a tubular bandage will fit, the package should offer some guidance about the diameter it will comfortably cover. It is important to avoid excessively tight bandages, as they can create health complications. If a patient specifically needs compression to prevent edema, a doctor will prescribe an appropriate product for the patient to wear.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Tubular bandages are great. I also use this bandage as a support hose. I have used typical support hoses before but had a lot of problems with them. They were so tight that they would hurt my skin. Tubular bandage is much more comfortable and a good compression level can be achieved by layering them. I usually layer two or three layers of it depending on the amount of swelling I'm experiencing. The other great part about this bandage is that it comes as a large roll and can be cut to any size. It's easy to wear and remove and none of it goes to waste.

I do wash them and reuse them but after several washes, they do loosen up a little bit. So I do cut new ones after about the third use. But it's not terribly expensive and I buy it in ten meter rolls so it lasts for a long time.


@ysmina-- You are right that there are different types of tubular bandage out there. The ones I use are made of thin, elastic material. It does provide some compression but definitely not as much as a typical compression bandage.

I use this bandage to keep dressing clean on a wound. I know that some people use this bandage like compression hosiery however. My grandmother used to wear them for edema in her legs. So it is a multi-purpose product that can be used for different reasons.


This is not the type of bandage worn to prevent sports injuries correct? Some tubular bandages are made of thick material that apply a lot of pressure.

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