Medical Tape Tips
Medically Edited and Reviewed by: Dr. Erin Zinkhan MD, BSBE
Tape may seem like an easy-to-understand topic, but the variety of medical tape available requires more explanation to help you choose the right product for your needs. When you put something on your body, you want to make sure it's right. Once you find the right product, it's also helpful to know how to properly use it.
We'll explain how to choose a medical tape and some tips and tricks for proper application and removal.
Getting the Right Tape
There are so many different types of tape. To determine which tape is right for you, consider two main things:
- Do you have any allergies to tape or sensitive skin?
- What is the intended tape application?
With all the varieties of medical tape, it is important to know which tapes work well for sensitive skin. Choose a tape that is breathable so that the skin doesn't become irritated due to moisture that is trapped beneath the tape. One option for a breathable tape is Tegaderm Transparent Dressing. Another factor to consider is whether the tape has a light or strong adhesive. A strong adhesive works best on a skin type that other tapes don't stick well to. On the other hand, Paper Tape is a more gentle option for those with sensitive skin.
If you experience allergies to tape, the first thing you'll want to determine is whether you are allergic to the tape, the adhesive, or latex. The easiest place to start to determine which component you are allergic to is to try a latex free tape. If a latex free tape still causes an allergic reaction, try a hypoallergenic tape
If you still experience an allergic reaction while using hypoallergenic tape, than it is possible that you are reacting to the adhesive in the tape. To prevent such reactions, use a tape with a silicone-based adhesive, such as the Kind Removal Tape.
Keep in mind that that the tape itself is hypoallergenic. It does not necessarily mean that the adhesive is hypoallergenic. If you still experience an allergic reaction while using hypoallergenic tape, then you may be reacting to the adhesive in the tape. To prevent such reactions, use a tape with a silicone-based adhesive, such as the Kind Removal Tape
Which tape you decide to use will largely depend on how you plan to use it. If the purpose is to hold a primary dressing in place, you may try a cohesive tape, such as CoFlex or Coban. This type of tape sticks to itself and doesn't stick to the skin, so it's ideal for hairy arms or legs, as well as for pets and veterinary uses.
You may want to use tape that will stay in place while you shower or sweat. For this purpose, choose a waterproof tape, such as Hypafix.
Lastly, if you need a barrier from the elements to cover a wound, but you don't really need an absorbent dressing, try a transparent dressing, like Tegaderm.
Shoppers Tip: If you have a roll of tape that you want to replace and don't know much about it, use the filters on our website to narrow down the selection. Choose the color, size, etc., and then you can select by picture.
Tips for Proper Taping
- Always apply tape to a clean, dry surface. Clean the skin before application.
- Use a Skin Prep Wipe before application to make the tape perform better.
- Don't stretch the tape. Medical tapes are designed to be applied without any tension. Applying tension to some styles of tape could cause skin damage.
- Use enough tape. The tape should extend about a 1/2 inch beyond the dressing.
Removing Tape - Without the Skin
If you have sensitive, delicate skin injury can occur when the tape is removed. The prevent this, follow these simple techniques:
- Loosen the edges of the tape first.
- Stabilize the skin with next to the tape with a finger.
- Pull slowly, starting at one corner, so that the tape is pulling away at an angle.
If you are using Tegaderm or another adhesive dressing, the removal will be a little different than the instructions above.
Shoppers Tip: If you are using a tape with a strong adhesive, such as sports tape or Hypafix, you may need some additional help to get the removal process started. Try an adhesive remover, such as Unisolve before starting the removal process.