Life with MS & EDS

March 31, 2011

Allergic to Band-Aids

One of the things I was most worried about during my recovery period after CCSVI angioplasty isn’t something that most people even think about.  I was concerned about band-aids.  I’ve always had trouble with them.  What they do to my skin is usually worse than the wound I’m trying to cover.  During college I had an angioma removed after it swelled and started to bleed.  When I came back for the follow-up, the dermatologist remarked how bad the skin looked from the band-aid and that the area where the angioma was removed looked great. That was the first time anyone qualified actually said I was allergic to band-aids.

I discovered that my skin could generally tolerate just one type of band-aid, Curad’s Sensitive Skin Bandages.  They became hard to find, so I bought a case of them on Amazon, fearful that I’d be stuck using gauze and paper-tape in the future should they ever stop making them.  I’ve tried other brand’s “sensitive skin” band-aids with zero success.

I can use the Curad bandages on my fingers without problems, but it seems that they aren’t quite good enough for other parts of the body.  I came home from angioplasty with guaze and a clear plastic-like cover over the incision site.  I left that on for a few days and then changed over to my Curad sensitive-skin bandages.  That went well for a couple of days, but then I started seeing irritation.  I could start to see the imprint of the bandage on my skin.  The incision hadn’t healed well enough yet for me to feel comfortable going without some kind of covering, so I left the band-aids on.  Stupid decision.  Here’s the result:

Angioplasty incision, surrounded by reaction to band-aid

You can kind of see the outline of the band-aid, even though it’s been off for almost 24 hours.  That looked worse about a day ago.  The lovely rectangle around the incision is from whatever they use to affix the gauze to the flexible bandage.  That part looked even worse last night.  If you look closely at the bandage, you can see a shiny outline surrounding the gauze.

Curad Bandage: Note the shiny area around the guaze

It is the shiny area that made the raw rectangle around the incision.  Lovely, eh?  Yesterday afternoon I changed back to using gauze, but gave up on that and decided it was time to just give up on bandages.  I’m trying to leave it open today, but when a wound is at the very top of your leg, it’s a hard area to air out when it’s 40-degrees outside and I need to be sitting at my desk all day.

I hope one of these days someone will make a latex-free, sensitive skin band-aid that doesn’t destroy my skin.  (Note that the Curad Sensitive Skin bandages are NOT latex-free.  Perhaps that’s part of the problem, but it really does seem to be the adhesive that caused the problem.  It’s hard to tell.)


A couple of days ago I spent my lunch break at CVS in their first-aid area.  I looked at tons of various bandage options and decided to try two things.  I bought a box of latex-free fabric bandages as well as a box of gauze pads and paper tape.

When I got home, I put the latex-free bandage on a random spot on my thigh to see what it would do.  So far, it’s red around the outside of the bandage.  While I still don’t know for sure if I have a latex allergy, my skin definitely has issues with adhesive.

On the angioplasty incision, I put gauze and paper tape.  Not only is paper tape really difficult to keep on given the wound location, but the parts that did stick made my skin red!  Isn’t paper tape supposed to be one of the safest things on skin?  Go figure it would be a problem for me!

My husband came up with an idea.  He covered the offending part of the Curad Sensitive Skin bandage with gauze.  Since it takes a few days for the outer edge of those bandages to mess up my skin, we figured this would at least buy me some more time for the incision to heal.  I just wish the darn thing would develop its own scab already.  I’m pretty sure the Lovenox I’m on is slowing the healing process.  It’s been two weeks and the area is still rather raw.  My fingers are crossed that his solution works.



  1. Wow! You’re the first person other than myself that I’ve heard of being allergic to bandaid glue! No bandaid type things work for me – I react to all the ones I’ve tried. Oddly I seem to be able to use any kind of tape including duct tape lol! So I just tape pieces of gauze on. I’m not allergic to latex and I do have MS. I blog about it at If you’re willing to experiment with household tapes maybe one will work for you. Best of luck!

    Comment by Tanya Asbreuk — March 31, 2011 @ 9:25 am

  2. The best thing about blogging is that I find out about others who are going through the same strange things as me! I’ll have to give duct tape or other random household tapes a try. It’s funny that duct tape would be better for ones skin that sensitive-skin band-aids, but somehow it’s not surprising! Thanks for the link to your blog. I’ll check it out!

    Comment by mseds — March 31, 2011 @ 9:30 am

  3. […] once I was off of the Lovenox that I’d notice more of an improvement.  My incision site and band-aid disaster did heal (for the most part, but you can still see the band-aid outline!) after being off of the […]

    Pingback by Well That Did Not Last « Life with MS & EDS — April 18, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

  4. My mom, daughter and I all have EDS hypermobile type and my mom and I have MS. We also have the same issue with bandage and tape adhesive. It’s as if the adhesive dissolves our skin. I found one bandage that is the best. The brand name bandage is made by Bandaid “Advanced Healing Gel Strips” and 3M Nexcare bandage gel strips, but many store brands rip off of the same bandage style.

    They don’t rip off your skin, you can leave them on for several days, they are waterproof, and they pretty much stay on. for 3 to 4 days.

    The worst bandages we have ever used are the 3M Nexcare waterproof bandages with the really thin clear tape/adhesive that is tapered toward the ends and wider in the middle. We used it on my daughter’s neck and face (tender skin) when she was young to cover her awful mosquito bites because she couldn’t stop scratching and she was destroying her skin. We had to take them off on the weekend because she was screaming that they were hurting her. As we tried to peel the bandages off, they were taking 1 to 2 layers of skin with them. At that time, 3M did not have a weekend help line in operation. I don’t remember what we used, but she had scars for over a year from that. It was awful.

    I recommend the gel bandages as long as the would is not too large or too wet as it makes the bandage gummy. Short of that, I recommend a gauze pad and the grippy elastic bandages some places have. It sticks to itself and not you.

    Comment by Dawn S — May 30, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

  5. Thanks for posting an actual picture! I was Googling around this morning trying to figure out what’s happening with my skin — and came across your photo, which looks exactly like the skin on my ankle where I just took off a bandaid. At first I thought it was just some blood that had seeped out to the edges of the gauze pad but it’s actually a raised area of broken skin, almost as if someone had cut straight lines with a little knife! Crrazy. And the funny thing is, I’ve used two or three other bandaids from this same box on the same wound, and this one is the first time I’ve ever had a reaction like that. Now that I think of it, maybe that’s the problem — too much adhesive eventually caused a sensitivity. Anyway, your post and pics were helpful and I just wanted to say thanks. I will try some of the suggestions from these comments.

    Comment by Carlos — June 10, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  6. It’s great to know someone feels my pain with bandaids! I always get an print of the bandaid anywhere on my skin! The only bandaid I’ve had success with is the Curad Waterproof Foam Athletic Strip. It’s also Latex Free, but almost impossible to find anymore!

    Comment by Angela — July 22, 2011 @ 11:30 pm

  7. My kids and I are all allergic to the adhesive from bandaids… we can use fabric bandaids for VERY short periods of time, but I’ve found the best thing to do is use gauze (or even folded toilet paper) and wrap the “grippy elastic bandages” others have mentioned all around the injured part. This keeps medicine on the wound, and keeps it clean, without the adhesive issues. On a side note… I’ve been doing a lot of research on EDS lately (I have dysautonomia and a lot of other issues), and I think this is part of what’s going on – with me, my kids, and even other extended family members… though I seem to be the “lucky one” in that I’m the one with serious health issues most likely related to this. How did you find a doc who knew about EDS? Should I just take the info to my primary care doc and insist he refer me (and my boys) to someone? I guess I’m at a loss as to how to go about looking into it… plus I have an endoscopy this Friday where I’m going to be put “under” for the first time… which isn’t likely to be easy on me – so I’m already feeling a bit overwhelmed. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! 🙂

    Comment by Nonna — October 26, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

  8. Sorry it’s taken me forever to get back to you! It was very difficult to find an EDS doctor. I’m fortunate that I don’t need referrals or I think I’d still be looking for answers. I can find a doc and just go to them. I was diagnosed by my daughter’s doctor, who also diagnosed my mother and we traced it back to m grandmother. My daughter was very “floppy” as a baby and had several gross and fine motor delays, among other issues. We went to some of the top pediatric neurologists in the country and they threw up their hands, finally sending us over to genetics. That’s where we finally got answers. The genetics doc at CHOP was fantastic. I was not as fortunate when trying to find a doctor for myself in Philly. I finally gave up and started going down to Baltimore where I found a fantastic EDS doctor. Your best bet might be to search for a physician on the National Ehlers-Danlos Foundation page. They don’t attest to the quality of the doctor (the horrible one I saw in Philly is listed there), but it’s a starting point. I wish I had better advice.

    I hope the endoscopy went well! Did you have any trouble with the anesthesia? I’ve had issues with it in the past that seem to be related to the EDS, but it’s still hard to tell. I feel like I’m trying to put together a puzzle and I don’t have all the pieces.

    Comment by mseds — October 31, 2011 @ 10:19 am

  9. Hi, I just found your blog by searching for information about adhesive reactions. I know that people with EDS are more likely to develop hypersensitive reactions in general, but I didn’t know this particular allergy was so common! Do you (or anyone else who may be reading the comments) have any idea what specific chemicals in the glue may be causing the reaction? Trying to figure out what, exactly, I’m allergic to.

    Several months ago I got a bad burn and had to cover it with 2 bandages in an “x” shape, one large one and then a smaller one across it to hold it in place…where the larger one was, I got a horrid reaction everywhere the adhesive touched – looked like severe poison ivy rash, kept progressing even after taking bandage off, had to get cortisone cream to clear it up – but no reaction where the smaller one was. The large one contained latex, the other was latex-free so I assumed I had become allergic to latex and avoided it, and all was well. Recently, though, I discovered the brace I had been wearing (thanks to EDS dislocation!) contained latex elastic, and despite wearing it for a week I had no reaction! So back to square one in identifying what I reacted to…it was obviously something in the adhesive other than latex, and I just happen to not react to whatever’s in the other brand’s adhesive…but now I don’t know what I’m supposed to avoid! Any thoughts?

    Comment by Maggie — November 15, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

  10. I was just looking for sensitive skin and latex free bandages and found these: they are both.

    Just copy and paste in your browser. I have not tried them yet.

    Comment by Tina — March 9, 2012 @ 8:38 am

  11. Hey Tina! Let me know if you ever try them. Curious to see if they really are gentle enough.

    Comment by mseds — March 9, 2012 @ 8:46 am

  12. i have the same issue, i’ve started using kids band aids and replacing them every morning, and i haven’t had much problem since then. Try it out, if it works for you i’m glad i could help!

    Comment by Andie — April 24, 2012 @ 10:03 pm

  13. I have used gauze and then you can get stretchy net like things to hold the gauze in place. They make the netting all different sizes, so you can use it anywhere, finger arm chest leg. It may not hold the bandage as good, but so much better than the damage band aids do.

    Comment by Marcy Reimer — March 26, 2013 @ 11:21 pm

  14. My new EDS doctor gave me that stuff and it is pretty useful! Thanks for sharing the tip!

    Comment by mseds — March 27, 2013 @ 7:22 am

  15. I have had success using Durapor or cloth/silk tape by 3M. Have made my own ‘bandaids’ using little gauze pads and this tape. That is until recently when I was covering a surgical cut, with the tape in the same place for a week. Now I seem to be allergic to that, my last tape option. It has given me a severe blistering reaction, not just the little itchy rash. Thanx for the suggestion of the gauze with the stretch tubes (I have used cutoff sock tops for holding things in place on legs & arms). I had considered doing 19th Century medicine, using gauze wrap bandaging and tying it off. The stretch net will be much better.

    Comment by Rob Boyte — April 7, 2013 @ 9:30 am

  16. I’ve had severe reactions to band aids all my life. My skin used to blister wherever the adhesive touched my skin and it would take longer for those blister to go away than for the actual wound to heal. Turns out I am allergic to colophony (also called pine rosin). It’s found in the fabric of many bandage products (and hundreds of other products, including toner and floor varnish). I’m not sure if that would be your case, but I would recommend doing the scratch skin allergy tests to find out what is causing this reaction. It worked for me. By the way, Nexcare bandaids don’t contain colophony or latex, so I use them with no reactions. Good luck!

    Comment by Karolina Pochwat — May 7, 2013 @ 8:30 am

  17. Wow, I had never heard of colophony. Thanks for the info! It would be nice to pinpoint the exact cause of the reaction. I’ll have to try out the Nexcare bandages and see what happens.

    Comment by mseds — May 7, 2013 @ 8:56 am

  18. my wife has a similar problem to yours with the band aids and we found that the Publix store brand works very well for her.

    Comment by Richard McCuistian — May 14, 2013 @ 3:05 am

  19. thanks for this blog post. I just broke out with a rash in the shape of a bandaid from using Bandaid brand flexible bandaids. My old package didn’t bother me but the new one I bought yesterday, July 4 2013 is causing an allergic reaction. Since having a systemic allergic reaction to a medication a few years ago I find I have surprising sensitivities to many things and now this. Thanks for all the great info. I’ll look up colophony.

    Comment by J.J.kai — July 5, 2013 @ 10:41 pm

  20. I too have a severe reaction to bandaids. I have tried the latex free ones and they do the same think. Either making my skin red or tearing off my skin. I will try and find the nexcare bandaid. Thanks for info

    Comment by Delia — August 5, 2013 @ 11:54 am

  21. I have the same problem with bandages. My grandma has it too. Even 5 minutes with it on I will have the outline of the bandage. I have been looking for one that works.

    Comment by Kristy Bodle — September 18, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

  22. Paper tape works fr me. It just oes not stay on as long.

    Comment by Kristy Bodle — September 18, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

  23. I had a really bad reaction to band aids. I used waterproof latex band aids and I felt a weird bump on one side of the band aid. So I pressed on it and it popped and oozed clear liquid. I took the band aidf off then and it tore part of my skin off with the band aid. It left a really nasty red mark where the adhesive was. I also tried paper tape and it left tiny bumps where it was in contact with my skin. I also tried latex free band aids and they also tore a little of my skin off where the adhesive was. I have to use gauze and a special type of tape that only sticks to itself.

    Comment by Amber — October 26, 2013 @ 10:24 am

  24. Wow! I was amazed to find others that have an issue with band-aids. I have had them actually pull my skin off of my arms.
    I have MS, but could someone please tell me what is EDS. My family doctor can not figure out just what is going on with my skin, not only do band-aids cause me issues, but my arms especially, will bruise with just a little bit of friction.

    Comment by Bonnie — March 6, 2015 @ 1:06 pm

  25. Oh my gosh! I thought I was the only one. I have to hold the area with gauze when I get blood drawn. I have an anaphylactic response to latex. So it’s almost impossible to find a bandage that I can use. I think the adhesive has some type of latex particles in it or a derivative of latex that is causing this reaction. Maybe that’s the problem. I’m going to look it up and see if all adhesives have some type of latex components in the mixture😖

    Comment by Latara moore — April 1, 2016 @ 10:15 pm

  26. I have the same problem. But I can use 3M waterproof bandages on my hands and feet. Actually as long as it’s on my knee or below or elbow and below. Closer than that on my arms & legs and the trunk of my body is where I have the allergic reaction. I recently used Curad sport bandage for a spot in my side & broke out really bad in the pattern of the bandage. Thanks for the advice. I’ll try the Curad for sensitive skin & see how I do with those. But like I said the 3M waterproof ones are great for finger cuts.

    Comment by Carla — May 21, 2016 @ 11:40 am

  27. I feel for the mid 30’s mom with allergies to tape adhesive. I too have a allergy to adhesives. I’ve tried several bandages and tape and got the same result, red torn skin. (my skin literally tears away). The only tape that I’ve found that doesnt harm my skin is Sports tape, the kind athletes use. I hope this helps others with this problem, all you can do is try it to find out.

    Comment by Nancy Verhalen — July 31, 2016 @ 4:23 pm

  28. I also have EDS among several other issues. I have the same issues with adhesive. Including heart monitor stickers. I end up looking like an octopus attacked me. My daughter has the same adhesive allergy. I just found this out as she got some second degree burns from our wax warmer. She pulled it down and hot wax spilled on her. Her burn was bad enough, but now I can’t even cover it like I’m supposed to. It’s been a most two weeks since the burn and now her skin is blistered and raw from the tape and gauze combo. I then switched to Tegaderm which I can mostly use without any problems. But she can’t. Did you find any other alternatives?

    Comment by Sara Heater — January 17, 2017 @ 7:28 pm

  29. I am on dialysis and suffer with issues with Bandaids and tape. The only ones that work for me are Curad Sensitive skin but it seems that they no longer make the thin ones which are the only size I can use because of relative location of needle sites. For tape I use 3M Kind Removal tape which has silicon dots over the surface. They make bandaids with the same kind of adhesive but they are so expensive for repetitive use.

    Comment by Wilson Amanda — August 4, 2017 @ 1:19 pm

  30. I have the same problem. I ended up pulling the entire bandage off and wearing only open garments and letting the air heal it .. takes a few days but my skin cancer surgery on my chest healed great .. I sleep on my back now which is different from sleeping on my side but it’s only temporary. 😀

    Comment by Christina Lane — August 7, 2017 @ 12:50 pm

  31. Your not alone , I can’t wear any medical tape or band-aids. I just found the only band-aid that I can wear without a problem. There don’t seem to be many sizes but Equate has been my life saver for now. I’ve only been able to find them in Walmart so far. What ever glue they are using does not bother me yet and I’ve used it now for 1 week and hurrah, no redness. Hoe you can find same results!!!!

    Comment by Caroline G Hinners — April 16, 2018 @ 10:17 am

  32. Hi! I was googling Ehlers Danlos and allergy to bandaids, and your article came up. Did you ever find a solution? Thanks so much!

    Comment by createandhealwithlove — May 10, 2018 @ 6:32 am

  33. The only thing that’s worked for me is the Nexcare silicone tape (which is the commercial version of the 3M Kind Removal tape they have in hospitals) with cut gauze pads.

    Comment by mseds — May 10, 2018 @ 7:18 am

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