We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Wound Dressing?

Diane Goettel
Updated Feb 25, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

If you have ever gotten a small cut or scrape and put a Band-Aid® over the wound, then you are familiar with wound dressings. A wound dressing is a medical tool that is used to cover an injury. Technically, wound dressing is the sterile cotton or gauze that is applied to the wound. It is different from any tape or bands that are used to hold it in place. Since there are many medical supplies such as Band-Aids® that incorporate both dressing and bandage, they are often used interchangeably in casual language.

Wound dressing is particularly important to help ward off infection. It protects a wound from debris that could carry bacteria and cause infection. Before applying dressing to a wound, however, it is important to thoroughly clean the wound. This should help to wash away any foreign matter that entered the wound at the moment that the injury took place.

One of the most important things to remember when dressing a wound is that the materials used must be sterile. Dressings and plasters are usually packaged individually so as to keep them sterile. If you do not have a dressing on hand, use the cleanest cloth that you can find to cover the wound until you are able to obtain a sterile dressing.

It is advisable to use an antibiotic ointment or cream in addition to a wound dressing to minimize the risk of infection. Even wounds that are properly cleaned and dressed can become infected. An antibiotic ointment or cream will help to further reduce this risk.

If you are using a wound dressing such as gauze or cotton, it is important to keep it in place with a bandage. While Band-Aids® and plasters can be used for small injuries, dressings are more useful for wounds that affect large areas of the body. If, for example, you fell while riding a bicycle and scraped your entire forearm, you would probably need to have that entire area dressed with cotton or gauze and then secured with bandaging tape.

When you are dressing a wound, be sure to follow first aid guidelines. If you are not familiar with first aid guidelines, try to find someone who is. Also, if you are ever in doubt about the severity of an injury, you should make sure to consult a medical professional. A medical professional can assess the wound and decide what kind of treatment and dressing is best.

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.
Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"
Discussion Comments
By sweetPeas — On Oct 18, 2011

In hospitals today, they have some very good supplies and methods of dressing wounds after surgery and in cases of injury. These supplies have cut the risk of infection way down.

There is always some danger of infection whenever you open up the body, but proper care of wounds really helps. If a patient leaves the hospital soon after surgery, a family member is often taught how to change the dressing, taking care to keep it clean. And,of course, antibiotics help even more.

By PinkLady4 — On Oct 17, 2011

Whenever I hear the term wound dressing, I think about the wars. Women back home would get into groups and prepare wound dressings and bandages to be sent to the battle fields.

I have heard that so many wounded soldiers died from infection from wounds that weren't kept clean or the dressing wasn't clean in the first place.

During the Civil War, with so many wounded soldiers, I don't know what they could do to prevent infection, with no antibiotics, and often no way to clean the wound.

Thank heavens, antibiotics were finally discovered.

By animegal — On Oct 17, 2011

It is always a good idea to keep a decent first aid kit in your home. I am a bit accident prone myself so my mom finally told me to learn how to do my own wound dressing.

Right now all I do is wrap a thing of gauze around the area whenever I get cut, but I suppose that isn't the best way. I have read that adhesive wound dressings are a lot better because they stay in place and don't move around as much.

Has anyone tried using paper stitches on larger cuts? I really hate having to go into the hospital every time I wipe out on my bike.

By drtroubles — On Oct 16, 2011

My mother recently had surgery and she has to have nurses in every day to do her wound dressing. I was talking to them and asking them what they were doing and apparently they are using what is called moist dressings on her to speed up her healing. Duoderm wound dressings are supposed to be really good at preventing infection while keeping the wound clean.

What is interesting to me about the dressings is that the nurse told me that actually form a gel like barrier over the wound. Instead of just drying out the area and making it hurt, the moisture allows you to heal more naturally. I think I may try and find some smaller moist bandages for the next time I get hurt.

By accordion — On Oct 16, 2011

I always try to use wound dressing when I get a bug bite, a bee sting, or something like poison ivy on me when I'm outside. I think it helps the swelling and itching of those sorts of injuries to go away faster.

By BambooForest — On Oct 16, 2011

I have luckily not had very many injuries that needed wound dressings. The most I've needed in the past is the kind of slightly adhesive would dressing that nurses put on your arm when you donate blood or have a blood test taken. I'm actually not even sure if that counts as a wound dressing, but it's at least more than a band aid.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.