Ripping off a bandage could soon become a painless experience.
Scientists involved with creating the new "ouch-free bandage" estimate that more than 1.5 million injuries across the United States are caused by adhesive removal alone.The sticky adhesive on bandages can hurt you when you take it off, especially if it pulls off pieces of skin and hair. The pain may be more intense for premature and newborn babies whose skin is far more sensitive than that of adults. Just removing medical tape, often used to secure IVs, can cause them scars that might last a lifetime.
"This is one of the biggest problems faced in the neonatal units, where the patients are helpless and repeatedly wrapped in medical tapes designed for adult skin," Bryan Laulicht, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and MIT who worked on the new medical tape, told TIME.
Biomedical engineers from MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston worked together to create a different type of ouchless, three-layer medical tape. A non-sticky backing and a sticky substance are connected via an anti-adhesive layer. The bandage sticks thanks to a pattern on the anti-adhesive part, but won't pull when you remove it.
"By controlling those interactions, we were able to define a regime where the adhesive could secure devices very strongly to the skin, but was very easy to remove," Jeffrey Karp, a researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told CNN.
The scientists looked at spiderwebs, which have some adhesive parts, and mica, a shiny mineral that flakes off easily, to help develop the product. They also examined the patterned feet of gecko's feet to see how to get something to stick yet be easily removable.
The research, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Oct. 29 is preliminary and has not been tested, but scientists have high hopes.