Internationally the classification of bandages has been somewhat confusing. Buyers have to take the responsibility, when ordering bandages, but often do not understand bandaging. The following classifications could be of help:

Bandages are classified by:


Retention – These bandages have a holding function. Important issues here would be:
• Will it hold itself in place
• Absorption capabilities (of bodily fluids)
• Ease of application – extensibility
• Fabric

Support – These give support to a limb. Important issues would be:
• Holding capabilities. You don’t want a support bandages to fall off within minutes.
• Stretch. Support bandages are short stretch and has a short lock-out. Most support bandages will give some measure of compression.

–Type 3a (Light compression, up to 20mmHg)
–Type 3b (20 to 30mmHg)
–Type 3c (30 to 40mmHg)
–Type 3d (40 to 50mmHg)


Adhesive (adheres to skin) or
Cohesive (sticks only onto itself not to skin)


Short Stretch (<70% of it’s length),
Medium Stretch (70-140% of it’s length),
Long Stretch (>140%)
Some people will only talk in terms of :
Short stretch (0-100% of it’s length)
Long stretch (>100% of it’s length)


Cotton elastic bandage (CEB) – 100% cotton bandage which achieves elasticity from the special weave. Tends to lose it’s elasticity relatively quickly, but retains up to 80% after washing it.

Permanent elastic bandage (PEB) – Contains cotton and variable percentages of polyamide, viscose, polyurethanes and other synthetic polymers. Retains elasticity much more effective. Typically used in specialized compression bandaging.


Woven – Most of above falls into this group
Non-woven – Usually of polyester/elasthane mix, tearable, long stretch, non-reusable. Cheap to manufacture.


Bandaging techniques becomes important once a bandage is used with some form of sub-bandage pressure. The basic techniques are:

Spiral(Fig A) – The bandage is applied from most distal aspect of limb with either 50% or 66% overlap. A 50% overlap means a double layer and a 66% overlap, three layers. Variations of this technique is the St Charles Technique or Combined Spiral & St Charles.


Fig-8 – Very few understand the implications of using a fig-8 compression bandage. With Fig-8 bandaging one has 4-layers of bandage which implies double the pressure compared to using a spiral method at 50% overlap. Fig-8 bandaging should be used with care only by those with experience in bandaging. No scientific proof exists to state the superiority of this method, although it has been used for many years.

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