Sheer strips, clear strips, fabric, antibiotic, waterproof, foam. Dozens upon dozens of shapes, sizes and styles. Name brands. Store brands. How to choose?
As commonplace as the adhesive bandage is, there's precious little info online that will help you choose the right bandage. Type "choosing the best adhesive bandage" or "best Band-Aid" into Google and you will get a lot of links to message boards, but not much in the way of professional advice. I did find few somewhat useful links, including a wound-care tutorial on PlanetRX.com, which offers pros and cons on different bandage types without recommending one or another; a not-too-scientific comparison of bandages by a doctor on Detroit TV station WDIV, who found that a waterproof Band-Aid bandage promoted healing best; and an entertaining video at 5min.com that recommends waterproof bandages for most cuts and liquid bandages for joints and digits.
Hoping to get some additional information, I checked with Rod Brouhard, About.com's guide to first aid. His response surprised me: "The real dirt on adhesives is that you don't need them unless you're going to get dirty." Brouhard suggests leaving most cuts uncovered so they'll heal faster.
That's all well and good if you've cut your shin while out hiking, maybe, and all you do is sit at a desk all day long. But what about the cuts on my thumbs? I can't very well stop typing or using my hands altogether. What bandage should I choose? Brouhard says the kind of adhesive bandage is less important than the brand: "When you buy the dollar aisle specials, you get bandages that don't hold long enough to make it out the front door."
So what does he recommend? Waterproof bandages are a good choice if you're going to get wet; fabric bandages are best for all other uses. "It's not necessary to buy special bandages for anything, but I do like knuckle bandages for knuckle scrapes. A box of assorted Band-Aid or Nexcare brand will do most households just fine."