Bandages and tape are essential items in every home first aid kit to care for injuries from small cuts and scrapes to more serious lacerations. You may also need specialty sizes as well as additional products following surgical procedures and other medical treatments that require fresh bandage or “wound dressing” changes. While there are many sizes of adhesive bandages—commonly thought of by the brand name Band-aids—some wounds, especially large or irregular shaped ones, benefit from dressings made of cotton gauze or gauze pads held in place with medical or surgical tape.
Here are specific products to consider for cleaning and wound dressing:
Cotton has many uses, from cleaning a cut with antiseptic to swabbing or dabbing on skin products. As a soft, pliable material, it’s gentle and minimizes any additional trauma to skin. Cotton is available as a roll of highly absorbent cotton fibers, allowing you to pull off what you need, or as cotton balls sold in a package. Large cotton balls, about 1” in diameter, are a good, all-purpose size.
Gauze and gauze sponges can also be used to clean cuts and other wounds before applying a bandage. Some, like Medline woven gauze sponges , can be used over the wound as well. Sponges come in a range of sizes, like 2” x 2”, 3” x 3” and 4” x 4” and in many plys or thicknesses, from 4 to 16 ply.
Having a variety of sizes of all-purpose adhesive bandage strips is a must. Among the handiest adhesive bandages are specialty finger shape bandages that work over knuckles and on cuts between the thumb and index finger. They’re made to move with your hands, to stay in place better and longer. Always look for the words “non-stick pad” or “non-adherent pad” so that the bandage will come off cleanly without pulling on the wound.
When an adhesive bandage isn’t big enough, you may want to start with a non-stick sterile pad. Often the first layer of a wound dressing, the pad can be applied right over the wound. A sterile non-stick pad will cover and protect a wound without adhering to it, so changing the dressing isn’t painful and won’t reopen the skin. Curad makes a variety of sizes, like the 2” x 3” ouchless non-stick pad that can be used on wounds after surgery, light bleeding, large cuts and scrapes and burns. Made of a soft, perforated mylar bonded to a 100 percent cotton pad that’s both highly absorbent and breathable, the pads are available with or without adhesive tabs. Those without tabs can be secured with tape after being wrapped with gauze if desired.
Conforming bandages are rolls of flexible gauze wrap that contour to whatever area of your body needs protection. Look for woven material and finished edges to minimize unraveling. Sof-Form conforming gauze bandages are sterile and latex-free and the combination of rayon and polyester give them stretch memory and make them an ideal secondary dressing on top of a non-adhesive pad, for example, to secure it and provide another layer of protection.
Elastic bandages are lengths of compression material used to provide support for a wound dressing or splint or on its own to stabilize a joint or another area of the body. New advances in elastic bandages mean that you can choose styles with Velcro closures, eliminating the need for clips like the Swift-Wrap elastic bandage with cotton/polyester knit construction for high compression and the Matrix elastic bandage for low compression. The Soft Wrap  is a clip style that works well as a secondary bandage, used to secure a gauze pad or another primary bandage in place when you need to wrap it with a sturdy material. Choose both the width measurement and the length of this type of bandage based on the area it will be applied to.
Another option to secure a gauze pad or bandage is with medical or surgical tape. Tape comes in many different fabrics. Medfix Ortho Porous Tape  is a sports tape with a cotton cloth backing and rubber-based adhesive for strength; its porous construction lets skin breathe. Medline paper tape is a breathable, latex-free tape for sensitive skin, recommended for geriatric needs. Medline also makes a transparent tape that’s perforated and allows your doctor to exam your skin without taking off the tape.
Having a range of bandages and tape on hand can prepare you for many unexpected mishaps. Then you can add to your first aid kit as you have specific needs.