Medical tape is essential for securing dressings and tubes. However, medical and surgical tape encompass a range of materials and strengths, some of which may be better suited to the patient’s condition and skin.
Finding the Right Type of Medical Tape
Medical taping typically consists of a backing material and an adhesive to stay in place. A degree of pressure is often needed, whether the tape is applied at home or in a medical setting, to secure the material to a dressing and the skin. Medical tapes often have a paper, cloth, foam, silicone or plastic backing, with each material offering varying degrees of tear and water resistance. Medical Monks offers these various tapes from top manufacturers like 3M, Molnlycke and BSN Medical.
If the wrong type of tape is used or if the product is improperly applied, the patient may experience medical adhesive-related skin injuries (MARSI). Adhesive strips off the skin’s top layer, resulting in skin tears and other types of trauma that can compromise its composition, increase the risk of infection, delay wound healing and cause the patient pain.
The right type of medical tape should be based on:
- The patient’s skin condition: Moist or damp conditions, from a wound or oil glands, may prevent the tape’s adhesive from fully sticking to the skin, resulting in adhesive failure.
- The patient’s skin type: Certain tapes are known to aggravate patients with sensitive skin, who may need a more breathable material, or who are allergic to materials like latex.
- Placement: If the tape will be applied to an area with hair, a self-adhering tape is preferred to one that secures to the skin.
Our Favorite Tapes
- 3M Medipore Soft Cloth Tape
- MeFix Dressing Fixation Tape
- Micropore Surgical Paper Tape
- Mepitac Soft Silicone Tape
Using Medical Tape
No matter the type of medical tape, it should secure to the skin and remain in place after pressure is applied. To apply the tape:
- The skin’s surface must be cleaned off and dry. Depending upon the injury, an antiseptic wipe may be needed to thoroughly clean the skin.
- Medical tape should never be stretched over the skin. Not only will the material tear and experience strain, but the patient will likely feel discomfort and pain following application.
- If the tape is holding a dressing in place, it should extend beyond the dressing’s surface to the skin.
- For removal, the tape’s edges should be loosened first, before the tape is slowly pulled off in a motion parallel to the skin.
- If the tape is attached to or near body hair, an adhesive remover may help detach the material.