Certain supplies are synonymous with health. We need them every single time and medical adhesive tapes are one of them. These tapes are not mere duct tape or the tapes you use for crafts. These are tapes used by medical professionals or during first aid to hold a band air or other type of dressing. These tapes, also known as surgical tapes, are pressure sensitive tapes designed in a way to firmly hold the skin. They have a hypoallergenic adhesive which ensures easy removal after use.
Surgical times during the ancient times consisted of strips of cloth with some type of plaster or sticky material which was applied over the gauzes and dressings to hold them in place. The tapes in the present world have advanced to a level where various types of medical adhesive tapes are available to various situations, There are breathable tapes made of cotton, tapes with zinc oxide to prevent infections, waterproof tapes, porous tapes, non-slip tapes for athletes, etc.
What are the 5 types of medical tapes?
As mentioned in the paragraph above, there are various types of medical adhesive tapes available for use by health professionals, first aid providers, or patients themselves. Some of the common types are:
1. Micropore Paper Tape
Micropore paper tape, commonly known as paper tape, is a commonly used medical adhesive tape designed to stick to the skin or directly to the underlying material. It is usually white or tan color with hypoallergenic adhesive to avoid skin irritation even during long term use. It has micropores that allow air circulation speeding the healing process. These flexible tapes are widely used, especially during an emergency as they are easy to tear and apply.
2. Transpore Polyethylene Tape
Transpore polyethylene tape is similar to micropore plastic tape. It is a translucent tape easily tearable both vertically and horizontally. This hypoallergenic surgical tape is easy to use with gloves or other surgical tools as it does not stick to them but needs to be dry to stick to the desired area. It is not applied to patients bleeding or wet. The most common use for this adhesive is securing tubing and dressing. It is the strongest medical adhesive for the skin.
3. Zinc Oxide Tape
Zinc oxide tape is a medical adhesive tape used to protect wounds and accelerate the healing process by stabilizing the injury. It is also used by athletes to prevent sports injuries like soft tissue damage. It is made up of rayon or non stretch cotton making it durable. These tapes work well in a humid environment and tolerate moisture.
4. Waterproof Tape
Many medical adhesive tapes are waterproof but there are a few kinds specifically made to work in water. These tapes are applied to dry skin in the beginning. After using it in water, the stickiness of tape comes back once it starts to dry itself out. These tapes are flexible and mailable. It can fit into curvy spaces yet ensure comfort to the patient.
5. Cloth Tape
Cloth tape is one of the most versatile and most used types of medical adhesive tape. These tapes are comfortable and flexible. It can tear in any direction and is made to be breathable for long term use but does not leave a residue once removed. It is usually used to secure splints or over dressings as it sticks best to the skin.
How to apply a medical adhesive tape properly?
Application of medical adhesives needs a set of knowledge else its effectiveness is reduced. The taping technique can even affect the healing process and its effect on the patient. As with any first aid, there are a few simple steps that have to be included while applying medical adhesive tapes.
1. Before applying any type of adhesive, the surface of action should be properly cleaned and dried. The wet surface reduced its stickiness to the surface where dirt might further infections.
2. It is important to properly prepare your skin before applying the adhesive. There are skin prep wipes available which make this work easier.
3. The medical adhesives have less stretchability and are designed to be applied without stretching. Putting stress on the tape will deform it and reduce its effectiveness.
4. The applied tape has to cover about half an inch more than the desiring does to properly hold it in place. No skimping should be done during the procedure.
After the use of medical adhesive tapes, the removal of tapes requires just as much consideration as an application. Hasty removal of medical tapes might remove skin or irritate in the case of sensitive skin. It is important to follow the below mentioned steps for proper and easy removal of the medical tapes:
1. Slowly loosen the ends of the tape first
2. Hold the skin beside the adhesive tape tightly with your fingers to avoid its movement
3. Slowly pull one end of the tape at an angle while stabilizing the skin
4. Make sure to remove all the residual adhesive from the skin after taking out the tape. Use adhesive remover if necessary.
Instructions to use the following types of medical adhesives
1. 3M 1’’ Micropore Transpore Tape
3M 1’’ Micropore transpore tape is a transparent, breathable medical adhesive that can be applied to the skin. It is hypoallergenic and offers strong adhesion. It is easy to tear with gloves which have made it one of the most used medical adhesives in first aid or other first-line treatments. It is transparent and meets the highest medical standard of the present.
This medical adhesive is specifically designed to stick to the skin through blood, sweat, and hair because of the tiny pores that allow the skin to reach the injury and allow body fluids to pass out. These pores are also responsible for making the tape size customizable by tearing in any direction. It is breathable and waterproof which makes it easy for everyday use. in order to customize the width.
The drawback of this medical adhesive is that the adhesive material is very wrong and might sometimes stick on the skin even after the tape is removed. This residue will eventually wear off after a few days but might cause allergies in sensitive skin. Its removal can also hurt sensitive skin by pulling the skin and hair. To avoid these adversities, it is advised to apply the tape without stress to a clean and dry surface and remove it by loosening the ends first. It is advised to clean the surface with an adhesive cleaner and let it dry before reapplication.
2. 3M Nexcare Waterproof Tape
3M Nexcare Waterproof tape is a widely used medical adhesive tape from one of the leader companies in medical adhesives. It is made up of extremely flexible and waterproof material ensuring the patient’s utmost comfort. Sports activities such as swimming, golfing can be fearlessly played with this type of adhesive. It is very easy to tear in any direction because of the micropores it has. Ripping the tape can be down with and without gloves. This medical adhesive fits into the curves of the body making the patients not feel any sort of discomfort while protecting the dressing splits of any other cause. The other major advantage of this tape over micropore tape is that this waterproof tape this tape firmly hold on to the skin but does not leave any residue after its removal. It does not stick to the skin and hair and cause irritation, making it ideal for sensitive skin types. Despite these advantages, the reason that micropore tapes are more widely used is that waterproof tapes are thicker, the perforations on the tape make irregular tearing, and are comparatively more expensive.
While applying this adhesive, although waterproof, it has to be applied to a clean and dry surface. The tape after properly sticking to the surface will continue to stick even when wet but the initial application needs to be on a dry surface. Removing this adhesive requires loosening the end and slowly removing it from the surface with careful consideration like any other adhesive. It is advised to clean the surface with an adhesive cleaner and let it dry before reapplication.
3. 3M Micropore Paper Tape
The 3M micropore paper tape is a type of medical adhesive that usually comes in white or tan color. It is a hypoallergenic medical adhesive that sticks to the skin without causing irritations even in long-term use. It is an affordable tape that costs less than any other type of medical adhesive and yet sticks to the skin and stays on over the course of several days. The tiny pores allow the skin the breathe which accelerates the healing process. It is very gentle on skin i.e it will not pull your skin while removal or leave a sticky residue as it does not have latex adhesive. This tape is preferred during emergencies because it is the easiest to use adhesive.
Despite these advantages, this tape cannot be used for every type of application. It is not made up of waterproof material and thus needs more caretaking than the waterproof medical adhesives. It is not very flexible which causes discomfort to many patients.
The application of paper tape is extremely easy. It has to be applied to clean and dry skin and gently strokes for maximum adhesion. The removal requires loosening the ends of the tape and gently remove the whole adhesive from the area. It is advised to clean the surface with an adhesive cleaner and let it dry before reapplication.
4. 3M Durable Cloth Tape
3M durable cloth tape is a widely used medical adhesive tape that stands out from other medical adhesives due to its integrated package. It is a versatile type that can be used anywhere from wrapping up splints to covering surgical wounds. It has a strong adhesive that sticks well to the skin but does not remove hair or skin while the tape is removed. It is breathable and of very high strength compared to other medical tapes and yet is flexible ensuring comfort. It is tearable horizontally and vertically with hands enabling making the tape of the required size anytime. Although this cloth tape seems to be the best package tape, it has a few drawbacks. This tape is not waterproof and not as flexible as the waterproof tape. Cloth tapes make moving the joints a little less pleasurable compared to Nexcare waterproof tape.
The method of application of cloth tapes is similar to any other medical adhesives. The required size is torn and applied to a clean and dry surface. The adhesive is stroked to ensure maximum adhesion. This tape has to be protected from water and moisture. To remove this adhesive, the ends are loosened first and then gently pulled. It is advised to clean the surface with an adhesive cleaner and let it dry before reapplication.
5. Re Factor Tactical Cloth Trauma Tape
Re factor, tactical cloth trauma tape is a medical adhesive like normal cloth tapes but with slots for vital signs to be written. It is usually used in pre-hospital care to write the necessary information like vitals and other signs on the piece of the tape allowing the next caregiver maximum information. A standard tape has fillable entries for body temperature, heart rate, respiration, oxygen saturation, mechanism of injury, treatment is given, and additional notes.
The method of application and removal is the same as the aforementioned cloth tape but is not widely used because it is comparatively much more expensive than normal cloth tapes.
Summary of the aforementioned medical adhesives
1. The 3M transpose tape is seen to be best for emergencies as it is easy to use. It sticks to any surface making it usable in non-medical situations too. The only drawback of this tape is that it leaves residue while removal which irritates sensitive skin.
2. The 3M Nexcare absolute waterproof tape is best used for athletes and everyday use. It can be used to cover dressing and as blister protection too. It is best for sensitive skin types but cannot be used for high strength applications like with splints.
3. The 3M micropore paper tape is the most used tape among first-line health care providers as these paper tapes are easy to tear, cheap, and effective. It can shape irregular body parts without damaging the skin. It is not waterproof and cannot be used for high-stress activities or exercises.
4. The 3M Nexcare durable cloth tape is a strong and cheap wound care product. It can be used for high tensile activities like securing splints or on bandages. It is used on a regular-shaped area of the body and causes discomfort if it is used on joints. It is not waterproof.