Home > Kids > Childhood Safety > First Aid > Bandaging Wounds

Bandaging Wounds

Bandages have three purposes: to keep wounds clear of infection, to contain bleeding, and to provide additional protection and support. Sterile gauze is preferable, but in an emergency just about anything will make a good bandage: scarves, T-shirts, socks, sheets, stockings, even a belt.

Bandaging a deep wound requires more than simply sticking a Band-Aid over the cut and hoping for the best. Deep wounds require bandages that are administered after a wound is cleaned and treated at the hospital.

Before You Put the Band-Aid On

Never wrap a bandage too tightly. You want to keep bleeding in check and protect the wound, but you don't want to stop circulation or cause irritating chafing! If the wound is on an arm or leg, check circulation by making sure fingers or toes stay warm and pink. If they become cold or blue, it's a sign there's a circulation problem. Periodically check the patient's pulse just to make sure everything's okay.

Bandaging Head Wounds

If a wound affects the scalp, the bandage should be made by tying a kerchief on the head and knotting it in the back.

  1. After putting on your protective gloves, stopping any bleeding, and cleaning the wound, fold a large bandanna-sized cloth into a triangle.
  2. Place the bandage on the injured person's head, with the tip at the back.
  3. Bring the two ends across the head, just above the ears and cross them in back.
  4. Bring the two ends back to the center of the forehead. Tie ends together.
  5. Tuck hem of bandage snugly under wrap.
Bandages for large head wounds and forehead wounds.
Bandages for large head wounds and
forehead wounds.

If a wound only affects the forehead, put a square of sterile gauze pad over the wound. Then wrap a sterile gauze bandage around the head, “sweatband” style. Circle the head at least three times to keep the dressing underneath in place. Cut and use adhesive tape to attach the ends, or tie them with a firm knot. You can also use a large piece of cloth, wrapping it several times around the head. Tie the ends in place above the eyes in the middle of the forehead.

To bandage an ear or cheek wound, start by wrapping
To bandage an ear or cheek wound, start by wrapping
"toothache" style. Then cross the ends on one
side of the head and tie on the other side.

Ears and cheeks require a bandage that is more like an “old-fashioned toothache” style. These steps teach you how to apply such a bandage.


Do not use this bandage style if the injured person has a jaw problem or if he or she is vomiting. It can cause suffocation!

  1. Place the long, thick bandage under the chin.
  2. Pull the ends up over the ears and cheeks, covering the treated wound.
  3. Cross the ends on one side, just above the ear.
  4. Wrap the two ends in the opposite direction, making a “cross” by encircling the forehead and back of the head.
  5. Tie ends where the “cross” meets.

Wrapping Knee and Leg Wounds

Wrap the knee and upper leg.
Wrap the knee and upper leg.

To make a bandage that won't come apart on the knee or leg, follow these steps:

  1. Clean and dress the wound while wearing protective gloves.
  2. Bend the knee unless it causes pain. Then place the middle of your wide, long cloth at the underside of the knee joint (and over any dressing).
  3. Wrap the cloth, with opposite ends crossing, over the knee and the upper or lower leg (depending on the location of the wound).
  4. Tie ends into a knot.
  5. Secure the bandage with adhesive tape or safety pins.

Follow these steps to apply a bandage to the leg using a spiral technique:

  1. After you clean the wound and apply an antiseptic, place one end of a long, wide cloth on the outer side of the leg. Secure it with adhesive tape.
  2. Twirl the bandage around the leg until you've covered the wound and dressing and the entire wound is protected.
  3. Secure the loose end with tape or safety pin to keep in place.

More on: First Aid

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to First Aid Basics © 1996 by Stephen J. Rosenberg, M.D. and Karla Dougherty. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks