An adhesive bandage (called a sticking plaster, just plaster, or Elastoplast (a trademark) in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Africa; often called Band-Aid (a trademark) generically in the United States, India, Canada, and Australia) is a small dressing used for injuries not serious enough to require a full-size bandage.
The adhesive bandage protects the wound, e.g. from friction, damage, or dirt. Thus, the healing process of the body is less disturbed. Often they have antiseptic
abilities. Some can even speed healing and minimize scarring.
An adhesive bandage
is usually covered by woven fabric, plastic, or latex rubber which has an adhesive. Adhesive tapes used for wound care often have an absorbent pad (often medicated with antiseptic). The bandage is applied such that the pad covers the wound (but does not stick to the wound), and the fabric or plastic sticks to the surrounding skin to hold the dressing in place and prevent dirt from entering the wound. Some newer bandages also contain woven strands of silver fiber, utilizing the natural antiseptic properties of silver
to speed healing and minimize scarring.
Although there are many variations for adhesive bandages with the usual protecting function, there are also types specially made for certain occasions, e.g. sports medicine, food handlers and rehabilitation.
Special bandages are also used by food handlers. These are waterproof, have strong adhesive so they are less likely to fall off, and are usually bright blue in color (so that it is obvious to the wearer if it has fallen off into some food). They are also detectable by special machines that are used in food manufacturing plants to ensure food is free from foreign objects before it is shipped to the public.
Other types of adhesive bandages include Kinesio and McConnell tape. These are not medicated. Instead, these tapes are used for rehabilitation of muscles and joints. Kinesio taping can also be used to aid lymphatic flow and the treatment of Lymphedema
Adhesive bandages with the function to distribute medication through the skin, rather than protecting a wound, are called transdermal patches