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The Evolution of Bandages: From Ancient Times to Modern Day

The practice of wound healing and the concept of a bandage have evolved over thousands of years, but the fundamentals have remained the same: keep the wound clean and protected. Let’s take a look back at the evolution of bandages and wound healing.

The first record of wound healing dates back to a clay tablet from 2200 BC, that tells of the “three healing gestures” – washing the wounds, making the plasters, and bandaging the wound.

The Ancient Egyptians forward-thinking approach is evident not only in their general practices but also in their wound care techniques. Their resourcefulness included the utilization of honey, both as a bandage adhesive and an effective bactericide, which continues to be relevant in modern wound care. In the early stages, the Egyptian "bandage" was a paste composed of lint, grease, and honey. The lint's innate absorbent properties were used, while grease was preferred since bacteria can't thrive in oil. The bandages were dyed green, which signified life, but more importantly, the copper content in the green pigment acted as a potent bacteria killer.

Greek physician Hippocrates, regarded as the Father of Medicine stressed the importance of sterilisation and the ancient Greeks washed wounds with vinegar and boiled water to disinfect them and wrapped the wound with dressings to prevent further injury. He recommended using linen bandages to dress wounds and injuries, and his methods were widely adopted throughout Europe and the Middle East.

During the Middle Ages, bandages were typically made from cloth or animal skins, and they were often soaked in a variety of substances, including wine and vinegar, to help disinfect wounds.

In the 19th century, with the advent of modern medicine, new materials such as cotton and gauze were introduced for making bandages. Sterilization techniques were also developed, including the use of steam and chemicals, which helped to reduce the risk of infection during surgery and wound care.

During World War I, bandages played a crucial role in treating the wounded on the battlefield. Medical personnel used a variety of bandages, including adhesive bandages, gauze bandages, and elastic bandages, to treat injuries and prevent infections. The use of antiseptics and antibiotics also helped to reduce the incidence of infections and speed up the healing process.

With the advent of cotton, physician Joseph Lister was able to create sterile gauze, which revolutionized wound care. Later on, the invention of plastic bandages brought ease of use to the masses. Plastic bandages have dominated the market. Combining a natural product with this ease of use has seen the introduction of WoolAid. An adhesive bandage made from hyperfine™ merino wool. The fabric of our bandages biodegrades within four to five months, and wool naturally breathes which is critical to wound healing.

WoolAid bandages are now available for purchase at select retailers across the USA and NZ including REI, Erewhon, and Torpedo7’s both in-store and online, you can find a full list of our retailers here.

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