Selecting the Right Medical Tape for Any Situation

There are many thing to be considered when selecting the right medical tape for a given situation. We are fortunate that there are so many types of tape. There are applications where tape is commonly used, but those tapes may not be the best for the that particular person. Tape allergies, sensitivities to adhesives, and in some cases, the age and integrity of the skin need to be factored in when considering the qualities that will make up the tape to use. Caregivers and those self administering wound dressings or securing devices should also put thought into the location where the tape is being applied.

The most common types and formats of medical tape include:

  • Paper
  • Cloth
  • Clear plastic
  • Silicone tape
  • Vinyl
  • Silk
  • Kinesiology tape
  • Nonwoven soft cloth
  • Paper/plastic hybrid
  • Foam

Keeping moisture in, or out is the reason a waterproof tape should be used. Also a waterproof tape may prolong the length of time a dressing, tube or device stays intact. Giving the patient the freedom to clear the surrounding area, bathe, swim, or exercise should also be considered when deciding on a format of tape to use. In many cases waterproof tapes are not breathable.

There are substrates and adhesives that may cause allergic reactions or contact dermatitis. Some are allergic to base substrate which may be made from latex, a common type of allergy. Others may be allergic to the glues.

Medical tapes can cause inflammation from maceration, re-aggrivation of prior skin damage, removal of hair, occlusion of irritants due to poor cleaning, and damage due to repeated removal and application of tape adhesives. These reactions to taping can delay or impede the patients care. Symptoms may include:

  • Red skin
  • Rashes
  • Itchiness
  • Cracking and scaling of the skin
  • Blisters or bumpy skin

Age can be a factor when deciding on the right medical tape for the job. Neonates and the elderly have thinner skin. During removal the tape could cause tearing or severe irritation. In elderly the elasticity of the skin can case the removal of tape to cause injuries.

Proper Application of Medical Tape 

After determining the correct format of tape for the application, patients should become educate don how to apply and remove the tape. Tapes will stick vest to surfaces the are clean and dry. Some tapes work best with skin-prep which is a liquid meant to create a protective film and reduce friction when removing the tape. Skin-prep is great for some tapes, but with others it may create an adverse reaction. When applying the tape you should consider the elasticity of the tape and the area where the tape is covering. If it requires some give, then a rigid or weak tape may not be the best choice. Being sure to apply enough tape to adhere to both the dressing and skin is also very important. It is recommend that at least 1/2 inch of tape be extended beyond the dressing onto the skin.

As the producer of one of the most gentle, latex-free tapes on the market, we always recommend trying a sample before making a purchase. Medical professionals and caregivers appreciate the strong hold, and gentle release of Hy-Tape. Hy-Tape is waterproof, and has zinc-oxide infused in the adhesive which can sooth already irritated skin. 

Click here to request a free sample of Hy-Tape

Learn More about Hy-Tape: