Those with sensitive skin are always checking ingredients lists to ensure that a product contains hypoallergenic, skin-friendly ingredients. And when you're shopping for the best bandages for those allergic to adhesive, it's more about the ingredients that aren't included such as latex, acrylate, and methacrylate. In order to find the absolute best bandage alternatives, I got in touch with Dr. Annie Gonzalez, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist with Riverchase Dermatology in Miami.
Dr. Gonzalez wrote to Bustle, "Acrylate and methacrylate are chemicals commonly used in tape adhesives to make them sticky. If you are allergic to adhesive bandages, these are most likely what you will react to." Furthermore, many leading-brand bandages often contain latex, which contributes to the bandage's elasticity, but may cause skin irritations and itching for those who are allergic. As with any sensitivity or allergy, it helps to narrow down your specific allergen with the help of a physician — but until that happens, it's best to avoid all of them at the same time. In that case, look for options that are labeled hypoallergenic and latex-free.
Using Dr. Gonzalez's advice, I've narrowed down five options, which include both ready-to-apply bandages and adhesive-free alternatives that you can use in place of standard bandages. (Whenever disclosed by the brands, the ingredients are listed below each product for convenience.)
1. The Best Bandages For Extra-Sensitive Skin
Because they're hypoallergenic and produce zero waste, PATCH natural bandages are a direct recommendation from Dr. Gonzalez: "These bandages are organic and perfect for minor scrapes and cuts. They are hypoallergenic and latex-free. They are made of 100% organic bamboo fiber and are mineral-based pressure-sensitive adhesive." Finally, they're "free of toxins, plastics, and harsh chemicals," not to mention "vegan, cruelty-free and compostable." Each order comes with 25 bandages in a convenient storage container, and many customers with especially sensitive skin reported that they experienced no reactions.
One reviewer wrote: "I have always been that kid who could never wear regular latex/adhesive bandaids. [...] I would swell, rash, and welt up from using them to the point where the reactions to the bandaids were more irritating than the reason for the bandaid itself! These PATCH bandages are amazing [...] and I have no negative reactions to them whatsoever."
2. The Best Budget Latex-Free Bandages
"Those who are allergic to latex know that when it touches the skin it can become itchy, red, and irritated. Applying a latex bandage to a wound for someone with a latex allergy literally adds insult to injury," Dr. Gonzalez wrote. That said, it can be difficult to find a stretchy alternative that fits well and moves with you. "These bandages are latex-free and made with a 100% sterile fabric that provides flexible coverage in 3 different sizes. These are particularly good if you need to place them over moving joints as opposed to flat surfaces of the skin. They are [also] a wise choice if you will be engaging in physical activity," according to Dr. Gonzalez. However, they are not specifically hypoallergenic.
- Ingredients: 100% polyester film backing, acrylic, pressure-sensitive adhesive formulated specifically for skin contact, polyester pad, silicone-coated, kraft paper release liner, cohesive coated, cold seal paper wrapper
One reviewer wrote: "I usually get a rash from the adhesive on bandaids. They fit well but do not cause a rash. They come in multiple sizes."
3. The Best Skin Barrier Film
Instead of applying adhesives directly to their skin, those with allergies can use a skin barrier film, which is a "wipe or spray that provides a protective layer between your skin and the bandage," Dr. Gonzalez wrote. While it "cannot be applied directly to a wound" and it shouldn't "be used on your face," Safe n' Simple is suitable for most with sensitive skin because it's sting-free, fragrance-free, and alcohol-free. These wipes are also large and individually packaged. Plus, they come with an applicator wand. When it's time to remove or reapply, the formula comes off easily with soap and water.
- Ingredients: purified water, sulfopolyester, glycerin, sorbitol, octoxynol-9, dimethicone copolyol, propylene glycol, methylparaben, propylparaben, diaxolidinyl urea
One reviewer wrote: "Wow, do I love this product! [...] I am allergic to all adhesives. A friend told me about this product and I am amazed. I am currently able to use sensitive tape and band-aids again."
4. The Best Hypoallergenic Medical Tape
"Hypoallergenic tape is latex-free and void of 90 percent of allergens," wrote Dr. Gonzalez, and it can be made from either cloth or paper. "Hypoallergenic tape has been proven not to cause skin reactions/allergies," and "because it is lightweight, it allows the skin to breathe." With more than 2,000 reviews and a 4.7-star overall rating, 3M Medipore's tape is easily one of the most popular options. It's made from soft, hypoallergenic, and latex-free cloth, and the three rolls come already-perforated for easy tearing. It's also water-resistant and stays on skin well.
- Ingredients: n/a
One reviewer wrote: "This is the only tape I have found that sticks to me and doesn't cause itching, a rash, or redness. I seem to end up with many surgeries, so I always keep this on hand in a special hiding place so I have it when I need it. Paper tape works for about an hour's worth of sticking power. This lasts for days."
5. The Best Gauze
According to Dr. Gonzalez, gauze is a great adhesive-free alternative to bandages — but this method "involves a bit of DIY. To use, cut a piece of gauze and place it over the wound, then use an elastic tubular band to keep the gauze in place." Alternatively, you can use this tubular gauze, which is easy to apply on any part of the body (especially small, dexterous appendages like fingers and toes). That's because it's made from hypoallergenic cotton yarn and comes in the form of a stretchy, seamless tube that you merely twist around the skin to stay put while fitting a range of hands.
- Ingredients: n/a
One reviewer wrote: "Works well for hard-to-bandage fingers and toes. A little awkward to use until you get the hang of it, but otherwise a great alternative to adhesive bandages that won't stay on. This little box will last a long time."