Painless Medical Tape Removal?
August 14, 2007 4:29 PM   Subscribe

How to removal medical tape without pain?

I had a minor surgical procedure recently. I had to keep gauze in place to cover any potential bleeding so the nurse was kind enough to keep it in place with medical tape. For those that don't know, this stuff sticks...I mean REALLY sticks. I went to remove it but it was stuck to a lot of my hair. When I tried to remove it, the pain (or potential pain) prevented me from carrying it out.

Is there some sort of trick to getting medical tape off of your skin/body hair?
posted by unceman to Health & Fitness (20 answers total)
posted by taff at 4:37 PM on August 14, 2007

quick quick quick. works for a bikini wax. it helps to get someone else to rip, preferably someone ruthless.

if you can get your wound wet, you might try soaking it, although i presume that's not an option yet.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:43 PM on August 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Heat it with a blow-dryer. The heat will loosen the adhesive. Slowly peel it off when it gets good and hot.
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:43 PM on August 14, 2007

There's a terrific product that we use at the hospital called Detachol. Here's the MSDS that lists the ingredients. You can get it at Amazon or at your local medical supply store.
posted by scblackman at 4:44 PM on August 14, 2007

Rub a little baby oil into the top of the medical tape and around the sides... Let it soak in, and it will be easy to peel off with no "ouch."
posted by amyms at 4:55 PM on August 14, 2007

Plastic tape? There's multiple kinds of "medical tape." For plastic tape, just take an alcohol swab (or some rubbing alcohol) and rub it over the plastic tape. Comes off like magic.
posted by gramcracker at 4:59 PM on August 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

I second baby oil.

You can also use any kind of household cooking oils, like olive oil, or even a smear of peanut butter (though, depending on exactly where the incision site is, you may not want that particular area to smell like Jif).
posted by AngerBoy at 5:17 PM on August 14, 2007

After a few beers, if you rip it quick it won't hurt, much. After a few more, even if it hurts you won't notice. Quick is the key.
posted by caddis at 5:19 PM on August 14, 2007

Take a long shower or bath. It will then either come off by itself, or with a little coaxing.
posted by Xere at 5:48 PM on August 14, 2007

Thirding oiling the top... what I do after that, if it's still sticking, is pull the edge up and run a very dull knife under it. It tugs, but nowhere near as bad as ripping off.
posted by Glitter Ninja at 5:48 PM on August 14, 2007

Rubbing alcohol. Peel a corner of the tape up, then take an alcohol wipe and work it under the tape, rubbing at the tape-skin junction. Works like a charm.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 6:20 PM on August 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

If the above fail, try nail varnish remover.
posted by stereo at 6:26 PM on August 14, 2007

Having lived with tubes in my chest at multiple points in my life you probably have or are close to have tape burns, which can be as painful or more painful than the actual wound healing. Yes, your skin can burn from tape.

The easiest way I have found, assuming you're healed up enough, is to get a bowl of warm water and some very mild soap and soak the washcloth in it, put the warm wet washcloth over the tape for a while, effectivelly steaming it, you'll want to do this for about 15-30 minutes and then slowly pull the tape back, repeating as necessary.

Please do not try any rubbing alcohol or varnish removal, if you've burned at all it will make it extremely painful.

The only time this doesn't work well is when they've used waterproof tape, which is evil and should be scrubbed from the face of this planet. Generally this will never be used if applied by a hospital or medical staff.

You'll likely have some tape residue left over, annoying as it will be you're best bet is to take the same approach with the residue, if you want you can apply some talcum or baby powder to it to dry it up.
posted by iamabot at 6:49 PM on August 14, 2007

I use a product called Uni-Solve to loosen the adhesive on tapes and bandages. It comes in little wipes and works like a charm. I don't think it's the kind of thing you could find at your local pharmacy, though, so I don't know how useful it would be to mail-order it if you need something in the next couple of days. I know there are other similar products out there.
posted by chinston at 6:51 PM on August 14, 2007

Best answer: Really hot water, or oil, or alcohol, or a blowdryer will all work. However, you'll probably end up spending much longer doing it and it'll still hurt, just spread out over a longer period of time. I'd go with the "take a long bath" idea, and then just rip it off. Your body hair might come with it, but it'll be a lot less painful than slowly peeling it off.
posted by tehloki at 7:21 PM on August 14, 2007

Second-ing Uni-Solve. Some nice nurse at a hospital may give you 1 or 2 wipes (all you would need normally). You can also find ti at any place that sells ostomy supplies (it is used to remove the osotomy bag).
posted by internal at 8:23 PM on August 14, 2007

Consider the amount of hair affected before you follow everyone's advice about ripping the tape off. Tape is not the same as bikini wax. I've heard of people ripping up skin.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:25 PM on August 14, 2007

When you're violent with the tape, that's when you get the burns and the blisters. If it's anything like the amount of tape I had on me it's simply not possible to just rip it off without pulling on the skin to the point where you may pop stitches. or re-open a healing wound.
posted by iamabot at 11:35 PM on August 14, 2007

Please don't use a blowdryer as some have suggested. You've got a new wound that is just healing, it doesn't want to be heated up hot. The skin around the area may have lost some sensation or may even be slightly numb. You can potentially burn yourself without realizing it until it's too late.
posted by RoseovSharon at 12:23 AM on August 15, 2007

If you're a man, you'll tear it off all at once, like a band-aid.
posted by Caper's Ghost at 9:40 AM on August 15, 2007

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