Bandage or Wound Dressing

What is the purpose of a bandage or dressing?

The main purpose of a bandage or wound dressing is to protect the sore or wound it covers. Many wounds do not need bandages and are left open to the air.

How often should a bandage be changed?

That is up to the doctor and nurse. Normally, the bandage is changed if it is not doing what it should do, which is to protect the wound. For example, if the wound is leaking blood or other drainage, it may be best to change the dressing so the leaking blood or drainage does not harm the wound. However, that is not always the case and some dressings will not be changed even if stained with blood or other drainage. Ask the doctor or nurse about the specific wound dressing, if you have questions.

Are there different types of dressings?

Yes. Some dressings, or bandages, are transparent and others are not. The clear dressing shown in the lower picture is placed over the entry site of a pulmonary artery catheter. Other dressings, especially those placed on IV lines, are often clear. This transparency helps the nurses and doctors examine the area without removing the bandage.

How long is a dressing used?

When a dressing is used over a wound, it is kept in place until sufficient wound healing has occurred. A wound normally heals from the outside inward, which prevents germs from entering the wound. This actually happens quite fast in most cases. A clear dressing is usually kept over the entry site of a catheter until the catheter is removed.

Bandage or dressing Clear dressing over entry site of a pulmonary artery catheter