A bandage is a piece of material used either to support a medical device such as a dressing or splint, or on its own to provide support to or to restrict the movement of a part of the body. When used with a dressing, the dressing is applied directly on a wound, and a bandage used to hold the dressing in place. Other bandages are used without dressings, such as elastic bandages that are used to reduce swelling or provide support to a sprained ankle. Tight bandages can be used to slow blood flow to an extremity, such as when a leg or arm is bleeding heavily.
Bandages are available in a wide range of types, from generic cloth strips to specialized shaped bandages designed for a specific limb or part of the body. Bandages can often be improvised as the situation demands, using clothing, blankets or other material. In American English, the word bandage is often used to indicate a small gauze dressing attached to an adhesive bandage.