The best way to remove surgical tape is also the most painful – counting to three and ripping it off as fast as you can.
Now scientists have developed tape that can be taken off without any wincing.
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Their aim was to improve the care of premature babies whose delicate skin can be damaged when tapes, used to attach tubes and leads to their bodies, are peeled away.
The team from Boston was led by Professor Robert Langer, whose previous experiments include growing an ear on the back of a mouse and creating a spray that stops hair from going frizzy.
The new tape has the same adhesive and backing as traditional versions but has an extra, textured layer that sits in the middle and has to be peeled back for the tape to be removed.
If the top layer – the backing – is simply pulled, this middle layer does not give and the tape stays in place.
But if the middle layer is peeled back, it gives and falls away from the skin, leaving the glue behind. The glue can then be rubbed off with the fingers or left to drop off naturally.
Tests on babies are planned and, if all goes well, the tape could be on the market in just one to two years. Those whose skin has thinned with age could also benefit.
How else might you assist very young and/or elderly patients?