There is a new type of adhesive bandage that adheres twice as well to skin – even for hairy parts – but hurts half as much when it is removed. Science has managed to tap into the main ingredient in school glue to make this possible.
The researchers set out to find a way to make a wound dressing that sticks fast and is strong, but can also be removed easily without damaging skin or causing pain, especially if the skin area is too soft or hairy.
A product such as this would be very important for children with head wounds or after surgery, but it would also have other wide-ranging applications for adults.
However, it has been hard to develop such a bandage. In general, dressings either attach hard and fast but can’t be easily removed, or else they can be easily removed but can’t hold the wound closed.
Researchers publishing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have discovered the answer by investigating school glue. In this process, polymer vinyl alcohol, a primary ingredient in the glue, is mixed with boric acid, a naturally occurring compound frequently used in antiseptics.
Alcohols in the polymer adhere to the boron atoms in the boric acid, forming a strong adhesive that holds the wound together. Yet when the bandage is soaked in water for 30 seconds, the boron atoms bond to the water molecules, instead of to the alcohol molecules. After all this time, the bandage can be pulled away painlessly and without yanking out any hair.
According to the researchers, the adhesives stick better than any widely used skin adhesive used in clinical medicine. But In the paper, the authors did not mention whether such versatile bandages could also have superheroes or animated characters printed on them.