How to put on a dressing
You should always cover a wound with a dressing to help prevent infection. Dressings also help stop bleeding by putting pressure on the wound.
Below are instructions for putting different types of dressing on a wound. For more information on using bandages to hold a dressing in place, control bleeding, and support a limb see how to put on a bandage.
Which dressing to use:
• For large wounds, use a pre-packed sterile wound dressing with a bandage attached, if you have one
• Otherwise, use a sterile pad and secure it with sticky tape. You could also use any clean, non-fluffy material, like a cloth scarf
• For small cuts or grazes you can use a plaster (adhesive dressing).
Things to remember:
• If possible, always use disposable gloves to protect yourself and the person you’re trying to help
• The pad needs to cover the skin at least a few centimetres around the wound
• Never touch the part of the dressing that will be in contact with the wound
• If blood seeps through the first bandage, don’t remove it – instead, place another dressing over the top
• If blood seeps through the second dressing, take off both dressings and apply a fresh dressing – make sure you put firm pressure on the wound to help stop the bleeding.
How to put a sterile wound dressing on a limb:
• First, take the bandage out of the wrapper and unwind it until you get to the dressing pad – but be careful not to touch the part of it that touches the wound
• Then hold the bandage on each side of the dressing pad and place the pad directly on the wound
• Start by winding the short end of the bandage once around the limb to hold the dressing in place
• Then wind the other longer end of the bandage around the limb until it covers the whole pad – leave the short end of the bandage hanging free so you can use it to tie a knot
• To hold the bandage in place, tie the two ends together directly over the pad to keep firm pressure over the wound – any knot will do, but use a reef knot if you know how to
• Once you’ve tied the bandage, you’ll need to check the circulation in the hand or foot beyond where you’ve tied it – press the fingernail or skin beyond the bandage until it goes pale and then let go. If the colour doesn’t come back within two seconds, the bandage is too tight so you’ll need to loosen it and retie it.
How to put on a sterile pad:
• Hold the dressing or pad by the edges and place it directly on the wound
• Use sticky tape to hold the pad in place
• If you need to keep pressure on the wound to control the bleeding, use a rolled up bandage.
How to put on a plaster:
• First remember to clean and dry the skin around the cut. Unwrap the plaster and hold it by the protective strips on the back, with the pad facing downwards
• Peel back the strips enough so the pad is showing and place the pad on the wound
• Carefully pull away the strips and then press down the edges of the plaster.