Saving Babies' Skin: Taking The "Ouch" Out Of Medical Tape

Updated:

Loading

FLORIDA - BACKGROUND:  Medical tape removal results in one and a half million injuries every year, mostly preemies.  Premature babies are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.  Many premature babies need extra care in the newborn intensive care unit (NCIU).  Some babies manage to make it through the NICU procedures, like IV, heel pricks, PDA ligation, central lines, tape and bandages without scars.  However, there are many children that still have visible scars even as they grow toward adulthood.  There have been reports of missing belly buttons, large scars across the body, and smaller scars on the neck and feet in premature babies.  The scaring can be a result of many things, but the most shocking is the damages of the strong adhesive medical tape (Source:  prematurity.org). 

THE BANDAGE:  The sticky adhesive on bandages can rip off skin and hair.  The pain is more intense for premature and newborn babies.  Premature babies often have IV’s that need to be taped to their skin.  The medical tapes most hospitals use are designed for adult skin.   Even on adult skin, its painful to remove medical tape and it often leaves behind a sticky residue from the adhesive.

NEW TECHNOLOGY:   During removal of current medical tapes, crack propagation occurs at the adhesive–skin interface, which is also the interface responsible for device fixation.  Doctors from Brigham and Women’s Hospital are developing a possible solution, quick release tape.  The tape is made up of three layers.  There is a layer in between the adhesive and the backing layers, the anti-adhesive composite intermediary layer.  Current medical tape fracture at the adhesive skin interface, but with the quick-release tape the fracture zone is transformed away from the skin and concentrated on the middle layer.  The anisotropic properties of this middle layer means that it has different physical properties dependent on direction.  The researchers employed a release liner to create the anisotropic interface, resulting in a medical tape with strength and low peel force for safe, quick removal. (Source:  National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America)  Researchers hope that this new tape will prevent injuries in premature babies as well as the elderly who have sensitive skin.