The Ultimate Guide to Medical Tapes

The Ultimate Guide to Medical Tapes

We have all sprained an ankle or wrist, but do we know how to properly use medical tape to help the healing process? Medical tape uses can be varied and depending on the injury or location the techniques used can also vary. Common types of medical tape can include kinesiology tape, rigid strapping tape, elastic adhesive bandages, and hand tearable stretched tape among others. So how do you choose medical tape and apply it properly? We here at Health Products for You can give you skinny on medical tapes and their proper usage.

 Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid Waterproof Adhesive Tape
 Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid Waterproof Adhesive Tape

How to Choose Right Medical Tape?

You may think medical tape is all the same, but you would be remarkably mistaken. The saying “the right tool for the right job” definitely can be applied for choosing the appropriate medical tape. To determine which medical tape is appropriate for your needs, first ask yourself a couple of simple questions. First, do you have any allergies or maybe sensitive skin? Secondly, where on your body do you need to use the tape? Some issues for your consideration include:

Sensitive Skin

Adhesive strength and breathability can contribute to irritation of sensitive skin.


If you suspect you may have allergies, try to determine if it’s the tape itself, adhesive, or even latex. If after trying other tapes you still experience reactions, try a hypoallergenic tape.


Your selection of medical tape is directly affected by where you may be using it. For instance, a particularly hairy site might benefit from a tape that adheres to itself instead of skin.

Your doctor or physical therapist can help you determine which type of medical tape would be right or appropriate for your specific need.

3M Durapore Silk Cloth Surgical Tape BSN Leukotape K Kinesiology Tape
3M Durapore Silk Cloth Surgical Tape BSN Leukotape K Kinesiology Tape

How to Apply Medical Tape Properly?

Once you have determined the appropriate medical tape for your need, medical taping techniques can go a long way in determining the efficacy of that tape and the effectiveness of its support. As with any medical or first aid device, a few simple steps can help you apply your medical tape properly and these include:

  1. Dry, Clean Surface: Any adhesive or tape benefits from being adhered to a surface that is dry and clean, so be sure to clean the skin of the application site.
  2. Skin Preparation: When preparing your skin for tape application, you should try using a skin prep wipe to properly prepare your skin for your medical tape.
  3. No Stretching: Medical tape is designed to be applied without stretching or tension. Stretching medical tape during the application can cause skin issues.
  4. No Skimping: You should always be sure to use enough tape. A good rule of thumb is to extend your tape ½ inch beyond the dressing.
Covidien Kendall Hypoallergenic Clear Tape McKesson Non-Sterile Premium Paper Surgical Tape
Covidien Kendall Hypoallergenic Clear Tape McKesson Non-Sterile Premium Paper Surgical Tape

As important as the proper application is the removal of medical tape is just as important (especially if you don’t want to remove skin). This is doubly important if you have sensitive skin since an injury can occur to your skin during removal. Follow these simple steps for easy medical tape removal:

  • Loosen edges first
  • Stabilize or tighten skin next to adhesive tape with your finger
  • Starting with the corner, pull slowly at an angle.
  • If necessary, use an adhesive remover to remove any residual adhesive left over.

The question of what is medical tape used for? can be misleading. The answer is different for each individual patient. Understanding your specific needs can go a long way in helping you decide which type and size of medical tape you may need. Medical tapes come in a wide variety of styles and sizes and with just some easy answers to some simple questions, you can choose which medical tape is appropriate for you.


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