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How To Apply A Pressure Dressing?

How To Apply A Pressure Dressing?
Akanksha Nigam

Pressure dressings are used as first-aid for heavily bleeding wounds. They help stop excessive blood loss by applying compression on the damaged blood vessels to facilitate blood clotting.

However, these dressings are not directly applied to the wound. The wound is first covered with an absorbent dressing to absorb blood and fluid. Then, it is layered with a pressure dressing so that the primary dressing stays secure. Pressure dressings are usually non-adhesive and usually need to be secured with a clip.

Covering the wound with a pressure dressing has multiple benefits. It applies adequate pressure to reduce swelling and keeps bacteria and other contaminants at bay. It also ensures that the injured area does not suffer additional trauma from repetitive movement to facilitate faster healing. Certain surgical procedures also require using a pressure dressing after surgery.

How to Apply a Pressure Dressing?

The steps to applying a pressure dressing are as follows:

  • Stabilize the injured person before administering any first-aid.
  • Before touching the wound, make sure to get consent to treat it.
  • If approved, start with cutting or tearing any clothing covering the wound. If any cloth is stuck to the wound, leave it as it is. This will help in blood clotting.
  • If possible, use a sterile saline solution to moisten the wound.
  • Do not remove any object from the wound, as it may provide a compression effect and help with blood clotting.
  • If a portion of the pierced object can be seen outside the wound, take a triangular bandage, roll it into a cord, and wrap that object with the cord to stabilize and restrict its movement.
  • Cover the wound with a clean, absorbent dressing or cloth if you do not have a first aid kit. Ensure it is not tied too tightly, as it could turn the limb blue or cold. 
  • Elevate the injured limb above the injured person’s heart level.
  • If blood loss continues, apply manual pressure to control it.
  • If the bleeding still does not stop, it is time to apply the pressure dressing.
  • Wrap a pressure dressing on the injured area, starting and ending a few inches above and below the wound.
  • Secure the bandage with a clip or tape.
  • Ensure the bandage is not wrapped too tight; otherwise, it may stop the blood flow.
  • You may test this by sliding a finger under the knot. 
  • You may also look at the patient’s toes and fingers to check for blood accumulation. If they turn blue, the bandage is tied tighter than required, and you need to loosen the dressing.

The objective behind wrapping the bandage tightly is to apply compression but not to restrict the blood flow completely.

Alternatives of Pressure Dressing

There are other ways to treat a bleeding wound, like using a tourniquet or applying pressure manually by hand, also known as direct pressure.

A tourniquet is typically used for injuries that could result in amputation, such as vehicle crashes, farm accidents, industrial accidents, and severe household mishaps. If applied correctly, the tourniquet can be a lifesaver. 

Tourniquets are beneficial because direct pressure only works for some time. Life-threatening injuries require intense and constant pressure that controls blood loss until the injured person is transported to a  hospital. Direct pressure is good for non-life-threatening injuries.

When a tourniquet or manual pressure is ineffective in stopping blood loss, another alternative is to use hemostatic agents to contract blood vessels. They are used to control severe blood loss where the application of a tourniquet is difficult, such as in the chest, groin, and abdomen. Hemostatic agents commonly used in the military are lightweight and compact, do not have side effects, and become effective within two minutes.

Our Best Pressure Dressings

HPFY carries a wide range of products to help with wound management. Some of our best sellers are:

1. Medline Non-Sterile 100 Percent Cotton Woven Gauze Sponges

FSA Eligible Items FSA Approved

Ideal for wound dressings wound packing, and general wound care, these sponges help protect wounds from dust and other external impurities. The C-fold design minimizes loose threads and lint. Unlike cotton, it will not stick to a wet wound. 

Features of Medline Non-Sterile 100 Percent Cotton Woven Gauze Sponges

  • Folded edges prevent de-threading
  • Paper packing reduces fiber debris
  • Sealed to prevent contamination
Medline Nonsterile 100 Percent Cotton Woven Gauze Sponges



2. ConvaTec Aquacel Ag Advantage Ribbon Wound Dressing

FSA Eligible Items FSA Approved

Manages exudate, infection, and bioburden by absorbing fluid from a wound and converting it into a soft gel. It aids in healing by maintaining a moist wound environment and is specially designed to reduce pain during dressing changes.

Features of ConvaTec Aquacel Ag Advantage Ribbon Wound Dressing

  • Anti-microbial primary dressing
  • Quickly reduces bacteria
  • Helps minimize cross-infection
  • Micro-contours to the wound bed which eliminates any dead space where bacteria can grow
ConvaTec Aquacel Ag Advantage Ribbon Wound Dressing



3. 3M Ace Elastic Bandage with Hook Brand Closure

FSA Eligible Items FSA Approved

A go-to pressure bandage to stop bleeding and treat sprains and strains, this bandage offers adequate compression and support to weak, sore muscles and joints. Featuring a Velcro closure that secures easily and eliminates the need for clips, it provides an anti-microbial treatment and inhibits bacterial growth.

Features of 3M Ace Elastic Bandage with Hook Brand Closure

  • Latex-free
  • Conforms to body parts
  • Washable and reusable
  • Fits discreetly under clothing
3M ACE Elastic Bandage With Hook Brand Closure



How does a pressure dressing help with Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is the swelling that occurs when lymph fluid does not drain properly. Lymph fluid carries white blood cells, which help the body tackle infections. Improper drainage may occur because of a cancerous tumor, parallel removal of lymph nodes to remove a tumor or radiation treatment. 

One of the ways to reduce pain and swelling associated with lymphedema is to use a pressure dressing or a pressure bandage. The bandage applies compression on the lymphatic system and the lymph nodes to push accumulated fluid to the center of the body and ensures there is no backflow of the fluid so it can be easily drained. 

Risks of a Pressure Bandage

Although a pressure dressing helps control blood loss and edema, always be aware of possible risks such as:  

  • If the bandage is tied too tightly, it may obstruct blood circulation or lead to blood accumulation in the fingertips or toes. Eventually, they will start turning blue or cold.
  • Regular use of the bandage or tying the bandage for a long period of time can cause the skin to sweat and lead to itching and irritation. 
  • If the bandage gets wet, moisture may take time to evaporate and cause bacterial or fungal infections. There could also be severe risks, such as nerve and soft tissue damage.

Consult your doctor if you have persistent pain or skin issues that do not resolve.


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.

HPFY Akanksha Nigam

Akanksha Nigam

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Akanksha Nigam has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. With a Masters Degree in Finance, she began her Marketing career in the banking industry. However, her interest in human ...

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