What is Medical Tape?
Medical tape is an adhesive tape that is specifically designed to be used directly on skin to hold wound bandages or other first aid or medical appliances in place. Medical tape needs to be skin safe, easy to use, and strong enough to work well when skin is moving, bending, or damp. There are many styles of medical tape that can be used in a variety or situations. 3M has many different kinds of medical tape, here is the link to a more complete guide to 3M medical tape.
What are the Different Types of Medical Tape?
Paper Medical Tape - Micropore paper tape is a breathable and lightweight tape that is gentle on skin, offers secure adhesion, works best on frequently changed bandages, and it can be used on "at risk" skin.
Zinc-Oxide Medical Tape - Hy-Tape is a zinc oxide based adhesive that can be soothing to delicate skin because when it is removed it reduces the chance of skin tears or tape burns. Hy-Tape is designed for extended-wear adherence to wet, oily, or sweaty skin. Hy-Tape can be worn in the shower without losing adhesive staying power. Hy-Tape is also a favorite of ostomy patients because it works with a variety or skin conditions.
Silk Surgical Medical Tape - 3M Durapore is a surgical silk tape that is soft, conformable, but perfect for medical application when strength is required. The easy to tear tape can be used in surgical and home settings and it is permeable and hypoallergenic.
Plastic Medical Tape - 3M Transpore is transparent and breathable. Transpore is a perforated plastic medical tape that offers strong adhesion, is easy to tear, and has the added benefit of being able to be used with exam gloves. It is ideal for securing dressings and medical devices.
Cloth Medical Tape - 3M Medipore is a soft, conformable cloth adhesive medical tape that can be used to hold wound dressings, tubing, and catheters in place. The cloth like nature of Medipore makes this an extremely flexible tape that is comfortable since it allows for easier movement.
Is Medical Tape Water-Proof?
Medical tape is not necessarily waterproof. You will need to read the product descriptions to make sure the medical tape you are choosing is intended for waterproof application. I would recommend looking at the different types of tape and seeing what kind of waterproof application they excel at, for instance, Hy-Tape can be used in the shower or the pool and still stay in place. 3M Transpore plastic tape can handle sweaty skin on hot days and 3M Micropore paper tape is great for skin that is a little oily or damp. There are a lot of medical tapes available and with the number of choices it can be daunting. It is always a great idea to buy a few rolls of several different kinds of medical tape to test on your individual wound care or medical device regime. What works for someone else may not work for you, trial and error can be the best way to know for sure.
Is Medical Tape Skin Friendly?
3M medical tape is considered skin friendly. They have a wide range of hypoallergenic adhesive medical tape that can be used directly on skin. However, before using a new medical tape you should read the product description and then do a skin test. When you receive the medical tape, test the medical tape on a small patch of skin that isn't connected to your medical device or wound care. Leave the tape in place and check to see how your skin reacts to it before you use it on a larger area or on an injury. Every person is different and just because something is labeled as "skin friendly" doesn't mean that it will 100% work for everyone.
How to Remove Medical Tape Adhesive
Medical tape is sticky, which is a good thing. The bad part about medical tape working so well is that it can be difficult to remove from your skin and once you remove it, the tape can sometimes leave behind a residue. How do you remove the sticky tape and the residue it leaves behind? I have seen a lot of suggestions online to use rubbing alcohol. This does work. I still don't recommend it because rubbing alcohol is harsh on skin. It causes skin to dry out and that can be rough on sensitive or fragile skin. There is a better way to remove medical tape adhesive. The best way to remove the tape and residue is to use adhesive remover. When you purchase your medical tape, pick up some adhesive remover to go with it. Adhesive remover is available in "sting-free" which means it doesn't have any alcohol in it so you don't have to deal with the drying effects of alcohol. There are also adhesive removers that do use alcohol, so if you are not concerned about it being "sting-free" check the label and read the descriptions. Adhesive remover is available in wipes or in a bottle.
Removing Medical Tape:
Start at the edge of the medical tape and gently dab the adhesive remover along the edge until the tape begins to loosen from the skin. Continue this until the bandage is completely free. Be patient and don't pull the bandage. By using adhesive remover you are avoiding damaging your skin so go slow and let the adhesive remover do the work for you.
Removing the Residual Adhesive:
Once the bandage is removed from the skin, gently swipe the adhesive remover back and forth over the area to remove any remaining medical tape adhesive. Once the stickiness is removed, wash the area with a gentle soap and water. Before applying any new medical tape make sure you dry the area of application thoroughly.
Where to Buy Adhesive Medical Tape
Medical tape can be purchased at a local pharmacy or large box store, however, they don't always have a large selection on hand. If you are looking for a specific adhesive medical tape, such as Mefix self-adhesive fabric tape by Molnlycke, you will want to contact an online medical supply store. Oftentimes online stores will be able to special order supplies for you. It is a great way to get exactly what you want, even if your local store doesn't carry the item.