Developments in "Ouchless" Bandages

While we all know the pain of removing a sticky bandage, those who've yet to develop an epidermis layer of skin (infants, for example) are particularly susceptible to injury from them.

Researchers from MIT and Harvard Medical School took on the challenge of creating a gentler bandage. Immediately, they realized that the bandage adhesive can be left on the skin, as long as the bandage itself is removed. To execute the separation of the bandage from the adhesive, they introduced an intermediate layer of silicone that helps peel off the adhesive. Once it's been removed, the leftover glue residue can be gently washed off the skin, or allowed to rub off on its own.

Some details from the article abstract in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

During removal of current medical tapes, crack propagation occurs at the adhesive–skin interface, which is also the interface responsible for device fixation. By designing quick-release medical tape to undergo crack propagation between the backing and adhesive layers, we decouple removal and device fixation, enabling dual functionality. We created an ordered adhesive/antiadhesive composite intermediary layer between the medical tape backing and adhesive for which we achieve tunable peel removal force, while maintaining high shear adhesion to secure medical devices. We elucidate the relationship between the spatial ordering of adhesive and antiadhesive regions to create a fully tunable system that achieves strong device fixation and quick, easy, damage-free device removal. We also described ways of neutralizing the residual adhesive on the skin and have observed that thick continuous films of adhesive are easier to remove than the thin islands associated with residual adhesive left by current medical tapes.

For more information, visit the press release or the study abstract in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.