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Adhesive TAPE - help need to find non-allergic

Trickling Member Posts: 295

Thanks to folks posting here and the full support of my surgeon (new hospital due to employer's changed insurance plan), I have recently had success using 3M Cavilon Barrier Film (I prefer the swab applicators.) >> WHEN APPLIED CORRECTLY <<. If your department does not stock them, have the department see if they can obtain the film through their wound department. If push comes to shove, Amazon carries the product (I now "secretly" always carry a couple to a medical appointment). Here is a link stressing PROPER application. Nevertheless, I have found a good rule of thumb -- even for veteran staff -- to be: "When you think the film has been properly applied in 2 layers over a wide enough area, extend the area even wider!"

VVV Below is my original post from April 2011. It is still helpful to read and bluntly reveals the some of real responses and obstacles that can still be encountered in the search for allergy free adhesive TAPES. Throughout the thread are alternatives that some patients have found helpful.

I have been told by my doctors, even though my hospital is a university setting, that I am responsible for finding TAPE to which I am not allergic. I do not know where else to turn but to you, my fellow cancer friends. If a monitor reads this new topic and thinks it would do better under another forum, please feel free to re-direct this new topic.

I have not had success in getting replies from medical companies I have located on the Internet and to which I have corresponded. I suspect some of the delay in feedback is not only due to the high volume of mail they receive but because I am simply a patient and not a company buyer.

I blister whether the tape is paper, nylon or that plastic stuff used to keep intravenous needles secure. Recently, I had a punch biopsy of my right breast (my breast cancer has so far been located in my left breast where I have had several lumptectomies. The punch biopsy of my rt breast was benign - hooray!).

A large area of my right breast was covered by paper tape and erupted in many and good sized blisters. The actual small site of the punch biopsy incision survived blistering because of the gauze. I was literally made vulnerable by the blisters not so much by the incision. As I write this, the tape is long gone and the blisters are healing - though it will be a while before the damaged areas disappear.

I admit to feeling pretty overwhelmed and unqualified for locating a compatible tape. I don't even want to think who will have to provide = $ the tape if it is found . . . I just don't understand how there could even be this void regarding non-allergic TAPE. I surely will do my best to communicate to everyone the existence of such a tape.

I do have a significant FACT IN MY FAVOR and I share it with you whether you are fortunate to have found a non-allergic TAPE or are a chemist or another Sherlock Holmes. FACT = The only ADHESIVE to which I have not had an allergic reaction is the adhesive portion of an over the counter dressing which I discovered a year or 2 ago when I used it for several days at a time for a special condition. The product is CVS Pharmacy HYDROCOLLOID ADVANCED WOUND CARE and it is specifically constructed for multi-day protection. The size I used was 2"x2". CVS Pharmacy is a chain store pharmacy in my area. Of course, I include reference to this adhesive in my correspondence to various companies. BTW, yes, I am allergic to latex.

Thank you for being you and available via BreastCancer.Org.

2021-11-23 Excellent video regarding some possible solutions to skin breakdown:

(10:56 min)

"Crusting Technique" for Peristomal Skin



  • dlb823
    dlb823 Member Posts: 2,701

    Sorry, I don't have an answer for you, but I've never heard of a hospital or doctors telling a patient to find their own tape!   I'm also sensitive to tape, but as long as I've mentioned it to my docs, non-allergenic tape has been used.  I'd suggest maybe calling a few different hospitals or even private practice plastic surgeons, and see if they can tell you what they use.   Deanna

  • Trickling
    Trickling Member Posts: 295

    Thanks dlb832 I love your incorporated Native American proverb,

    At first I thought what a great idea to just start calling around the city.  However, when I jumped on the Internet to look up private practice surgeons in my area, I was again confronted with the fact that the underlying problem is that a patient is being thrust into this role.  Thank you for prompting me to admit this a bit more.

    In the spirit of sharing with you, dlb823, and others who may read this, may I say that I also stared at the Internet list for private practice surgeons and realized that these groups of physicians are probably interrelated on some level; that even if I were to somehow find a way of communicating with an outside doctor(s) "out of the blue", the chances are that discussion/gossip would take place among the doctors about some doctors telling a patient to do such a search and the emphasis would shift from finding tape to defensive non-involvement, a non-involvement where I would be passed along as the known constant factor.

    Therefore, at least for now, for my own defense, I think I'll hold off with calling around the city. What do you folks think?

    Does anyone have the name of a non-allergic tape (it appears to be the ADHESIVE on the tape which is the main factor) which they have found successful? I will write to that company and try to get/purchase a sample to try out.

    Is there some umbrella organization that I should be contacting which might be a resource in this matter?

    In the meantime, since dlb823 specifically referred to > plastic < surgeons, I think I will try finding some Internet sites of plastic surgeons and submit my TAPE question along with the non-allergic adhesive portion of non-TAPE I did discover.  

  • hopeful34
    hopeful34 Member Posts: 522

    Trickling- I have had the same problem.  Granted, the docs didn't tell me to bring my own tape, but everything, even paper tape, gives me horrible blisters.  I have just been putting gauze on with no tape and wearing a sports bra to keep it in place.  I know that doesn't help much, but it has worked for me with breast surgeries anyway.  Good luck.  I know it can be a real pain in the butt.

  • Snobird
    Snobird Member Posts: 34

    I too get terrible blisters from the tape. I can't help you other than my surgeon was able to use minimal tape after surgery and then replace it with papar tape and gauze after 24 hours which minimized the damage. I can tolerate the tape for about 24 hrs before the blisters start to form. Paper tape was the least irritating for me.

  • sheila888
    sheila888 Member Posts: 9,611

    Trickling...I had the same problem with all type of tapes so they started using gauze and tape which I took it off as soon as I got home.

    That clear plastic skin type tapes almost caused an infection. Like you said blisters and red itchy skin. Do you need to keep them on on extended period of time?

    I don't remember what they used but everything was temp and pulled off just in time before the blisters.

    Good Luck. I feel your frustration


  • kaitsmom
    kaitsmom Member Posts: 251

    I have surgery coming up and I am also a bit concerned as everything I have used in the past surgeries has cause hives, blisters.  I was reccently given some Medipore H tape, made by 3M, to try.  A friend had success with it.  I cut a piece and wore it on my arm for 48 hours, and had no reaction.  That was a pleasant surprise.  I have done this twice so far. I am going to try another area, maybe stomach, today.  Perhaps this tape might work for you.  Best of luck in your search.  I am allergic to everything, it seems!!

  • sushanna1
    sushanna1 Member Posts: 61

    My heart goes out to all of you.  I too am allergic to most surgical tap adhesives including the medipore variety.  Paper tape works best for me too so I do what snobird does, that is, take it off as soon as possible and substitute plain gauze. 

    Good luck.


  • rosemary-b
    rosemary-b Member Posts: 57

    I too have an adhesive allergy and my dermatologist says to keep the tape on for as short a time as possible. When I had a mole removed and asked for paper tape he said just go without tape. I guess there isn't much out there. There are some bandaid blister care bandages that work okay for me but each one of us has to learn by tiral and error(ouch).

  • Trickling
    Trickling Member Posts: 295

    hopeful34 Glad you have been able to make do.  YEP: all the hype they give about paper tape doesn't work for more than a couple of us. NOPE:  I can't wear a bras YET though I would find the support ever so helpful.  If you do a search using my name you will see a ton of stuff why no bras for me at this time.

  • Trickling
    Trickling Member Posts: 295
    Snobird Hang in there.  Until something else surfaces may I suggest you call your doctor's attention to the dressing I referred to in the introduction.  KEEP CHECKING this thread.  I have the feeling we are going to put forth a united front and come up with some alternatives.  BTW, as much as I look forward to Spring popping out any minute now, I love the snow :-)
  • Trickling
    Trickling Member Posts: 295
    seyla888 I probably should have taken the tape off sooner than 1 1/2 days but the particular staff this time were so brazen despite my calling attention to my recorded history that I did what I did to prove a point. Believe me, I took digital pictures, which, BTW, I encourage you all to take digital pictures about every aspect.  The images don't have to be professional quality.  You never know when you can use the pictures.  Besides, you can delete digital photos in a flash.  Actually, I think my sensitivity may have increased since the last time and the blistering was a little more than I bargained for.  Definitely impossible to have I left the tape on for the suggested duration - as you well know. I hope you keep checking this thread.
  • Trickling
    Trickling Member Posts: 295

    Hadley  Personally, I think (used to think) if there is any place where a patient would find the staff searching full force for alternatives on a continuing basis, it would be in a university setting.  Therefore, I find this directive all the more distressful.  Actually, I am appalled at what I perceive to be a spreading eroding mindset as to the patient as patient rather than problem.  I will keep trying to respectfully address this relationship. Thanks for spreading your lucky wings my way, LADYBUG!

  • Trickling
    Trickling Member Posts: 295

    kaitsmom So very glad to hear your experiment is going your way.  Be sure to thank your friend for all of us.  I have e-maied 3M with what I think is an e-mail they can't help but reply.

    KNOW THIS EVERYBODY:  I let 3M know that if they had some TAPE and it test worked for me that "I assure you I will share that information not only with cancer groups - several of whose members have expressed this same concern - but with everyone I can."

    Good luck with your upcoming surgery. 

  • Trickling
    Trickling Member Posts: 295

    sushanna1 That's a big heart we all share.  Keep checking the thread.  I am  hopeful some alternatives are going to turn up.

    I am hoping the various companies will wake up that there is a competitive void right before their eyes.  Surely any chemist could at least grab some of the CVS product of the shelf and analyze the adhesive competitive product.  Kind of mind boggling that CVS hasn't stocked the shelves or responded re TAPE. 

  • Trickling
    Trickling Member Posts: 295

    rosemary-b I used to assume that medical personnel, even dermatology, personnel were doing all they could re this tape allergy.  I don't think that anymore given some attitudes I've experienced.  Furthermore, sharing information doesn't seem to be regarded in ways I innocently assumed it to be.

    Let's all make sure we keep helping each other as best we can! 

  • hymil
    hymil Member Posts: 177

    Hopeful (Allison) has pointed a good way forward - avoid the need for tape at all, just use a bra  (or  other snug clothing depending where the damage is) to keep the dressing on. Netelast or Tubigrip or even cottton crepe stretch bandages if it's somewhere conveniently wrappable like an arm or leg.

    Another possibility might be "Second Skin" colloid solution that you paint on to a cleansed wound and it dries to make a clear waterproof layer that sheds in a few days, children's first aiders love it. You can buy it over the counter pretty cheap. little 15ml bottle with a dropper or brush in the lid like a nail-varnish.

    Some plastic surgeons put steristrips along a wound (not just across it to keep it together) and then no other dressing unless it oozes, are you sensitive to those? It would probably help to make a list of the proprietary names of everything you have tried, then walk round the pharmacies. Also check out the nursing literature/sites for allergic/sensitive skin + dressings.

    PS Have you actually had any patch-test allergy testing? Some people get rashes when things get too hot/sweaty which isn't the same as an allergy, and blistering can be caused if there is shear forces under the dressing - it may be dragging and causing damage if it was applied while stretched, or if you have swelled larger since it was put on. Mefix is especially bad for this and some units have apparently stoppped using it, for everyone. Also, how a dressing is taken off matters too - the plastic film dressings (tegaderm etc) have a special way to remove them by going with the stretch not against it, {pulling the loosened dressing edge even further *away* from the cut, not over and back towards it} if you google tegaderm+removal you can find a youtube for it!

    Totally agree that it's not your responsibility to find or fund your own tape, however it's clearly in your interests to be creative about this. My own approach would be not to get mad at the doctors but to talk gently and maybe offer a few dollars or chocolates to the clinic receptionist, the district nurse or the hospital pharmacy tech. With the no-no list in your hand, what else do they have?

    BTW, What do you have in your own first aid box at home?

  • Delilahbear
    Delilahbear Member Posts: 206


    I feel your frustration. My PS is really getting so anxious to get rid of me and my allergies. I am also aallergic to latex and many meds. We have finally realized that the ONLY thing I don't tract to is steri strips so he just uses those to cover everything. Even the latex free tapes bandaids and such give me blisters from the adhesive.

    I was asked to bring him some gloves that are latex free for an upcoming in office procedure as they don't stock latex free. I can't believe I'm the only latex allergy patient they have and he hates the latex free gloves. My last 4 surgeries were all latex free and I did so much better. I wear latex free gloves at work so it was easy to get. I am pretty sure I will hear about the lavender color, however.

    Good luck with your quest.

  • rosemary-b
    rosemary-b Member Posts: 57


    You have to supply gloves? Wow. Well there are a lot of latex free hospitals so what would he do there? It boggles my mind that your PS doesn't routinely use latex free gloves or at least have them on hand.

  • sushanna1
    sushanna1 Member Posts: 61

    Be careful.  I am allergic to steri-strips and the 3M medipore adhesive.  Was fine with the steri-strips for the first couple of surgeries, but the not the last one.  So the effects may be cumulative. 

    Good luck 

  • LuvRVing
    LuvRVing Member Posts: 2,409

    Ladies - I had my BMX with TE's last Monday and my Plastic Surgeon was awesome.  I told him about my reaction to most tape adhesives and so he said, "no problem, we just won't use any tape!"  And he didn't, with the exception of the steri-strips.  I don't seem to have a problem with them.  He used gauze without tape inside the surgical bra.  It was no problem at all.  That bra is so tight, nothing is going to move anyways.  At home, I am using ultra-thin minipads (panty liners) inside my bra.  They're exceptionally thin, the adhesive sticks to the bra-side and keeps them in place, and they are exactly the right length.  And they protect the bra from any draining and the antibiotic ointment I was told to use each day on the incisions. 

    Don't let them make you suffer!


  • Delilahbear
    Delilahbear Member Posts: 206


    I also can't believe he doesn't routinely stock latex free gloves. He wears the latex free ones when he does my surgery at the hospital, has complained about them. Nurse at office told me today that she should order a box for when they absolutely have to use them. When PS removed a few surface

    Growths with scapel blade a few weeks ago he didn't even wear gloves. I almost said something, but then decided his clean, bare hands were better than latex gloves.

    LuvRVing -I developed allergy to the thin mini pads when I had to wear them after my Hysterectomy, guess that was part of the beginning of my allergies and not a good place for having allergic itching symptoms. Glad they are working for you. I was able to deal with the disposable nursing pads after

    Nipple surgery with few issues.

    Good luck to all with the allergic reactions to tape. I am almost done, I dearly hope, with all the recon stuff and after 3 years am more than ready for it to be behind me.

  • hopeful34
    hopeful34 Member Posts: 522

    I went for a TE fill today.  I have told the PS on numerous occasions of my allergy to adhesive.  He put band-aids on each breast where the needle was injected.  Needless to say, Just from the 30 minute drive home, I now have a rash.  I hope it goes away.  Sorry, just needed to complain for a minute.  I wish they would take me more seriously.

  • Trickling
    Trickling Member Posts: 295

    Delilahbear I forgot all about STERI STEPS.  Even though I have had allergic reaction to steri strips, the reaction would have been far less and the area covered far less.

    LATEX FREE GLOVES Thanks for raising this issue.  The university hospital where I go has switched to latex free gloves BUT I urge everyone with a latex allergy to continue to always call attention to  this allergy at each junction in the procedure.  I personally have experienced the benefits of this redundant pro-active stance of the patient reminding newly encountered personnel during the same procedure.  Sometimes past boxes of stocked latex gloves are floating around.  In addition, other products involved in a procedure may be made of latex and still the generally stocked item.

    Sorry to hear your doctor hates latex free gloves because we all know hating something encourages taking unnecessary chances and tension.  At least your doctor warned you to bring latex free gloves.  However, I think the doctor has stepped over the line by requiring you/his patientS to provide latex free gloves, an item easily available to him and at quantity prices.

    Hope the procedure went well for you. 

  • Trickling
    Trickling Member Posts: 295

    rosemary-b Hearing your input re the routine use of latex free gloves is encouraging. Sometimes a person can feel they are the only one or few confronted with these kinds of situations.  Furthermore, I think some of the ways a patient is responded to is tried and true brainwashing to shift responsibility.

    BTW, for a long time I did NOT know the serious even life threatening potential of an allergy to latex.

    Many years ago, after I had already experienced some surgeries and immediately before I was to undergo a major surgery, a senior resident in a routine manner asked me if I were allergic to latex and mentioned gloves.  I had not been asked this point blank in the past and readily replied that I got a bad rash if I wore gloves to do dishes.  Thereupon, I received a big lecture - undoubtedly, also for the benefit of other students, etc. in the prep area - about the life threatening capability of latex via gloves during an operation.

    I always gratefully remember this person when I remind personnel of my allergy.  Remembering this person and the circumstances brings a gentle and encouraging feeling for me.   I have also passed on the possible relationship of an allergic reaction to gloves and surgery to others and discovered welcoming surprises from others, who like myself, did not know the implications.

  • Trickling
    Trickling Member Posts: 295

    LuvRVing and Delilahbear I too exhibited an allergic reaction to mini pads. Mine showed up when I developed some minor urine leakage.

    Thanks for the tip about disposable nursing pads. 

  • Trickling
    Trickling Member Posts: 295

    hopeful34   I feel for you in so many ways.  I hope this thread, which is surfacing graphic experiences will provide courage for patients to be pro-active as well as supply some alternative adhesives which may work.  

    The solution is not that we have to bring our own protection but we are forced to because it is clear NOT taking a patient seriously can become routine.

    The 2"x2" HYDROCOLLOID ADVANCED WOUND CARE dressing I cite in the introduction is a bit pricey but so worth it for me I suggest getting some and testing it out on your skin somewhere.  I am resolved to routinely take one with me until a tape surfaces to which I am not allergic.  Check with your doctor, maybe this dressing will help you as well in the future. 

    Hope your needle work is over.  Personally, my one and only needle biopsy was more painful than my surgeries. 

  • Trickling
    Trickling Member Posts: 295

    hymil Your descriptive list of alternatives and problem causing skin situations is a great resource.

    I intend to get some of that "Second Skin" colloid solution you mention and do some testing on several skin areas in the same manner as I hope to do IF any of the companies to which I have written respond with suggestions.

    Sorry, folks, no responsive from companies to which I've written - YET. 

  • hopeful34
    hopeful34 Member Posts: 522

    Trickling- Thank you.  I will try that for sure.  I don't mind spending the money.  It beats having to deal with the potential for blistering and infection from the allergy.  I have already had my TE removed once due to the adhesive blistering/scarring me.  Thanks again.

  • brca1953
    brca1953 Member Posts: 15

    I have had reactions to steri strips which I mentioned to the PS.  He used some sort of glue on my incision's and I had no problems whatsoever.  They are healing very nicely and I expect my scar line will be very thin. 

  • scrap2book
    scrap2book Member Posts: 276

    I feel for all of you with tape problems, same thing with me. In fact, on all of my charts it says "Allergy to tape." I swear they read that as they are putting the tape on me!!  Like some of you, I've had better luck with the paper tape, but take it off as soon as I can.  The tape thing that they put on me when they''ve got my port accessed is the worst.  It takes longer for the blisters to heal from the tape than what it was covering to begin with.  Anxious to hear of any solutions anyone may have.  Good luck to all!