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Keeping Skin Safe While Using Medical Adhesives

With the use of adhesives being so crucial to your medically-complex child’s care, how do you ensure their skin stays healthy and infection-free?

Our infusion nurses specialize in the unique needs of pediatric patients requiring IV therapy.  We know there is a lot to manage while caring for your kiddo and want you to have the information you need to keep your child safe while using medical adhesives.

What are medical adhesives?

Question call-outAdhesives are comprised of many layers and can consist of a number of materials – anything from paper or a paper blend, plastic, silk, or cloth, to foam, elastic, natural-rubber latex or zinc oxide.

Adhesives are pressure sensitive, meaning that firm pressure will activate the adhesive by increasing the surface area contact that it has with the skin. And as more time passes and tape is on the skin longer, heat will increase the bond it has to the skin – making it more difficult, and potentially more irritating, to remove.

What causes skin injury?

Skin injury occurs when the skin-to-adhesive attachment is strong than skin-cell-to-skin-cell attachment.

When tape is removed, especially with repeated tape usage on the same spot on the body, layers of the skin may separate or the epidermis separates completely from the dermis. If this happens, injury to the skin will result.

What are the recommendations for skin care?

  • Assess the skin on a daily basis.
  • Care of the skin, including prevention of adhesive-related injury, should be a standard of care for everyone providing health care.
  • Peter_adhesivePrevention of medical adhesive-related skin injuries is facilitated by good nutrition and hydration.
  • Select the most appropriate adhesive product based on its purpose, location and condition of the skin at the site it is being applied to.
  • Consider the application of a skin barrier prior to applying the adhesive.
  • Limit or avoid substances which will increase the stickiness of adhesives.
  • Use proper application and removal techniques.
  • Consider the use of medical adhesive removers to minimize discomfort and skin damage.
  • Adhesives may promote the overgrowth of microorganisms – monitor sites for infection.

If you have any questions regarding your or your child’s skin care, we’re here 24/7 to help. Give us a call at 651-642-1825, or ask your PHS clinician. 

This information was summarized from the contents of the journal article “Medical Adhesives and Patient Safety: State of the Science: Consensus Statements for the Assessment, Prevention, and Treatment of Adhesive-Related Skin Injures”, and was presented by Laurie McNichol, Carolyn Lund, Ted Rosen, and Mikel Gray. 

Originally published: January 7, 2014