Wound care treatments

Being allergic to bandage adhesive doesn’t seem like a big deal, until you need a band aid. A skin irritation from bandage adhesive needs to be seen to, simply from the comfort side of things. If left alone, the symptoms will subside but they can be treated to make you feel better. Bandage adhesives are not only the grade used in hospitals but the same kind is used in simple sticky band aids that you can buy over the counter. It’s how the bandage adheres to your skin to allow that middle part, which is the main product of absorption, to do its work. Nicotine and hormone patches and sometimes even acrylic nails all use the same kind of adhesive.

Contact dermatitis is the main kind of allergy that comes from these adhesives. It is caused by the glue that is used. Being allergic to bandage adhesive is a common problem, especially when someone leaves the bandage on for a long time. Almost half of people end up getting a rash on their skin. Most of the time the rash consists of itchy red bumps but it is mild and once the bandage is taken off, the rash is will go away on its own.

Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction that can come not only from a bandage adhesive allergy but from several things. As well as adhesives it is known to be a symptom of poison ivy as well as some cosmetics, chemicals, cleaning agents and nickel. It is called contact dermatitis because the rash always occurs right where the offending product touched your skin.

It is recommended to do a patch test before using a bandage to determine if you are allergic to bandage adhesive. A patch test can also be preformed if someone has already had symptoms to find out if the allergy symptoms they are experiencing really do come from the bandage adhesive.

Doing a patch chest can also show if there is a further problem than just the adhesive. Many times people are allergic to the latex or the actual medication used. The symptoms to these allergies are also a rash so it’s hard to tell with the naked eye.


Common symptoms include:

  1. Itchy red rash only where the adhesive has touched your skin.
  2. Swelling around the area where the bandage was
  3. Hives
  4. Blistering

As you can see these are common allergy symptoms so a patch test is really the only way to determine where the symptoms are coming from and if you truly are allergic to bandage adhesive.

How to treat an adhesive allergy:

  1. The best form of treatment is of course, avoidance, once you know that you have the allergy.

  2. If the allergy is coming from a patch that you have been prescribed, try changing the location more often.
  3. In severe cases you may have to discontinue the medicated patch.
  4. Use a topical corticosteroid like hydro cortisone according to the box instructions.

In very severe situations, you may need to see a doctor to have an oral or topical medication prescribed to you.

Alternatives to bandages:

  1. If you’re not able to use a traditional bandage sometimes the hypoallergenic bandages will work but again, a patch test is recommended before extended use.

  2. If you cannot use any kind of bandage then find a type of tape that your skin does not have a reaction to and you can use this along with gauze. However, be wary of how long you leave on the tape because you can develop a skin irritation from tape. This, however, is not an allergic reaction.
  3. A folded paper towel or a scrap the fabric will work just as well also.

Hopefully you do not have to do away with band aids all together as this can be a little bit of a hassle but if you have to, then you do what you have to do because it is better to be a little inconvenienced when you nick a finger than to deal with the reaction to bandage adhesive. Knowing your body and what you are allergic to can help you to live life to its fullest potential without causing additional and unnecessary harm to yourself. If you ever have to be admitted to a hospital, it’s good to remind them of your allergies.