Allergy to the bandage: what to do?

Present in all first aid kits and medicine cabinets, bandages are essential for managing everyday injuries. Used since prehistoric times in the form of poultices, today they are generally composed of gauze and adhesive tape. But sometimes it happens that the adhesive substances cause skin allergies. What are the symptoms ?

Symptoms of a bandage allergy

“People who are allergic to bandages sometimes react with hives and swelling. The allergy occurs in the form of eczema, usually 48 hours after installation. The inflamed area corresponds to the impression of the dressing with a sharp edge.

In cases of more severe contact allergy, the inflamed area protrudes from the dressing ”explains Edouard Sève, allergist. The allergic reaction is always cutaneous and generally superficial. People with atopic skin are more susceptible to allergies. “If we regularly give bandagesto which we are allergic, the reaction may come back faster and be more lively, stronger … but it will remain local” specifies the expert.

There is no greater risk in pregnant women and children.

 What are the causes ?

For the allergist, allergies are linked to rosin, which comes from pine trees and is present in the glue of dressings. Thanks to its adhesive power, this substance, resulting from the distillation of turpentine, is used on the bows of stringed instruments, in sport in order to obtain a better grip on a ball or a racket for example, but also in paints, cosmetics and chewing gum.

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Other chemicals also present in the adhesive of the dressing such as propylene glycol or carboxymethylcellulose can be irritating and allergenic. You have to be careful because allergenic substances can also be present in other products such as anti-smoking patches or cosmetics. 

“Sometimes there are false allergies to bandagescaused by antiseptics like betadine or hexomedine. The dressing sticks the disinfectant to the skin, which increases its irritating power, ”explains Edouard Sève. We must therefore try to distinguish the origin of the allergy to better treat it.

 What are the treatments for allergy to the dressing?

In case of allergy, the dressing should be removed and the wound left open. However, if the allergic reaction turns into eczema, a skin disease that causes itching and redness, it is possible to apply corticosteroids, available in pharmacies. If you have ever suffered from allergies to dressings, choose hypoallergenic ones. “There are rosin-free bandagesavailable in pharmacies,” explains Edouard Sève.

 Alternative solutions to the application of a bandage

There are bandageswithout allergenic substances but which are however less adhesive such as white or colorless acrylic plasters and silicone plasters. These new generation bandagesadhere without sticking to the wound. Today, each brand offers rosin-free and hypoallergenic dressings. Do not hesitate to ask your pharmacist for advice.

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 Who to consult in case of allergy?

If you suspect an allergy, you can consult an allergist, who will do a test. How is it going? “The tests are quite simple: you can put patches on the back with different products, including rosin. Different types of bandagescan also be glued directly.

We wait 48 to 72 hours then we take off the patches and we observe if the eczema recurs in such or such products or bandages”explains Edouard Sève.

 How to properly use a bandage

Before putting on a bandage, it is necessary to disinfect the wound: you can use soap and water or a local antiseptic. After allowing it to dry, two types of bandagesare available to you: “dry” or “wet” dressings. The former, consisting of a sticky tape and a gas compress, are the most commonly used. They should be changed at least once a day. If the wound sticks to the adhesive, it is possible to wet the dressing to remove it without tearing the tissue. 

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So-called “wet” dressings, also called “hydrocolloids”, are composed of a film impervious to water and bacteria and of a gelatinous substance which will keep the wound moist. This type of dressing will prevent the formation of a scab that can be torn off. It can be kept in place for 2 to 3 days if the wound has been properly disinfected.

Allergy to the bandage: what to do?
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