Bandages and dressings



Prehistoric bandages and dressings (materials used to cover a wound) were most likely made from plant materials and strips of animal hide. Fabric bandages were developed later. Early writings from Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Greece, and Rome describe wound ointments and dressings. Bandages for battle wounds are mentioned in the writings of Homer (c. 900-800 B.C. ; author of the Illiad and the Odyssey), Hippocrates (circa 460-377 B.C. ; sometimes referred to as the "Father of Medicine"), and the Bible. Ancient Egyptian embalmers (those who treated dead bodies to prevent decay) were highly skilled in the art of bandaging. The great French surgeon Ambroise Paré (1510-1590) modernized the treatment of wounds, which were often cauterized (blistered or burned) before they were bandaged. Pare noticed that wounds healed faster when they were not cauterized, so he abandoned the practice in favor of ointments covered with carefully applied bandages. Three hundred years later, English surgeon Joseph Lister (1827-1912) pioneered the use of bandages and dressings that he had soaked in carbolic acid as an antiseptic (a substance that stops the growth of the microorganisms that cause infection).

Adhesive plasters, which later evolved into today's adhesive bandages, were mentioned in an 1830 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, medical journal. Plasters were patented in 1845 by Drs. William Shecut and Horace Day of New Jersey and marketed as "Allcock's Porous Plaster" by Dr. Thomas Allcock. In 1882 German pharmacist Paul Beiersdorf patented a plaster-covered bandage called Hansaplast.

The Modern Bandage

The adhesive bandage as we know it was the invention of Earl Dickson, an employee of the Johnson & Johnson medical supply company. Dickson's wife was continually cutting and burning herself in the kitchen, and Dickson was repeatedly bandaging her with gauze and surgical tape. Dickson saw that his wife needed a prepared supply of these dressings that she could apply herself, so he began experimenting. He laid out a strip of Johnson & Johnson's surgical tape sticky side up on a table and placed a folded-up gauze pad in the middle of the tape. To keep the gauze clean and the tape sticky, Dickson covered the strip with crinoline. Mrs. Dickson appreciated her husband's invention, and so did Dickson's coworkers and bosses. Johnson & Johnson quickly put the bandages on the market, and in 1920 they became Band-Aids (a name suggested by a Johnson & Johnson mill superintendent, W. Johnson Kenyon).

Manufacturers have offered bandages with various adhesives to meet different needs. Some people are allergic to particular adhesives or bandage materials, some need bandages to adhere when wet, while others need a bandage that is removable and reusable. A recent product called Fabrifoam was created by Applied Technology International Limited. Fabrifoam combines polymers, fabric, and foam to create a medical wrap that is being adopted by professional and college athletes. Performing better than the widely used Ace bandage, Fabrifoam breathes, grips better, holds its elasticity longer, is washable, and represents the next development in compression and treatment for soft tissue injuries.

[See also Adhesives and adhesive tape ]

Today's disposable bandages come in many forms and sizes. Some bandage companies have tried using bright colors and cartoon characters to make their product more appealing to young consumers.
Today's disposable bandages come in many forms and sizes. Some bandage companies have tried using bright colors and cartoon characters to make their product more appealing to young consumers.


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