Band-aid allergy - & 3 easy bandaid alternatives

April 17, 2020

Reading time for this article is 6 mins

Band-aid allergy (or bandaid allergy) isn’t new, in fact, it is just as old as the invention of band-aid itself! Band-aid is a regular medical aid tool in our daily life. Usually, WHEN a small area of ​​wound appears, a band-aid can help us to sterilize quickly, stop bleeding, and prevent infection in a short time. It is super convenient to carry around, and the method of use is relatively simple. But because it comes into direct contact with the skin, many people end up having an allergy to bandaid. 

Can you be allergic to band-aid?

It’s essential to note that, though some people may report being allergic to band-aids, with allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) in reality, they are merely experiencing irritant contact dermatitis (ICD). 

The human body is a complex organism, which is ever-changing and adoption to its environment; this is the reason why a person may go to sleep “healthy” but wake up and become allergic to a new allergen to the next day!

Therefore to answer the question, “Can you be allergic to band-aid?” The answer is Yes.

Causes of band-aid allergy

Many studies, tests, and researches have been carried to determine the actual cause of band-aid allergy, each study ending with few reasons.

It’s essential to know the different kinds of bandages out there and what they are made up of; this will help to understand what could be the cause of a patient’s allergic reaction to band-aids.

What are band-aids made of? What are the types of band-aids?

Plastic bandage

Plastic bandages are the most readily available and most common type of band-aids, and they come in various shapes and sizes, designed to protect wounds on specific parts of the body. 

They consist of a plastic strip with a non-stick (non-adhesive) top and an (adhesive)sticky bottom, and a cotton pad that is placed on the wound to absorb blood and allow the wound to clot for easy healing.

Cloth bandage

Cloths or woven bandages are used for deeper wounds and surgical wounds, and they consist of cotton gauze pads that are pre-cut or can be cut from the roll to the desired size. This type of band-aid works by placing the gauze pad on the wound and securing it in place using a dressing and adhesive. Generally, cloth bandages are used for injuries, and the wound healing time is longer and must be replaced regularly to ensure sterility.

Synthetic bandage or compression band-aids

Compression band-aids or bandages are used to apply pressure to the wound area, usually to press down on the internal wound to promote faster healing. They are typically self-adhesive and are made of a mixture of natural and synthetic materials, including cotton and latex. Non-adhesive options are also available and can be fixed in place with clips.

Elastic bandage

Elastic bandages, also known as “ace wraps,” are mainly made of cotton and mixed with elastic rubber threads to stretch them around the wound. They are designed to exert pressure on internal tissues and are most commonly used to damage the trunk, torso, or limbs.

As you can see from the above, apart from the chemical constituent of the adhesive used, a person can display an allergic contact dermatitis to either the of the following:

  • wool (wool allergy)
  • latex (latex allergy)
  • adhesive (Epoxy resin, glue, neomycin)
  • Nickel content – mostly a product of cross-contamination (nickel allergy)

In order to determine the actual cause of your band-aid allergy, it’s best to seek medical advice, and subsequently perform an allergy patch test. Once the test is done, only then can you start the elimination and avoidance of the allergen.

Symptoms of band-aid allergy

There are several reasons anyone would suddenly become allergic to bandaids; let’s look at them all.

As mentioned above, an allergic patient may be allergic to the chemical constituent of the adhesive material used in the band-aid, or maybe allergic to the content of the medication used. Regardless of the cause, the symptoms of bandaid allergies remain the same, the presence of small itchy blisters small bumps localized on the area within or surrounding the area where the bandage is applied. These small bumps may sometimes appear in the resemblance of hives or eczema.

For some, the redness and itching will appear within minutes or hours after the band-aid is used and for others, a day or more, to display any symptoms. And if the blisters are scratched too violently, they will become irritated and would break open, and pus will flow out.

Treatment of bandaid allergy

Contact dermatitis is the most common allergic skin disease. Like many allergies, the unavailability of a more permanent treatment leaves allergic patients with only one treatment method, which is elimination and avoidance of the allergen. The secondary treatment is controlling the allergy symptoms, in this case, the rash. Learning how to get rid of band-aid rash will greatly reduce your suffering on future flare-ups.

First, remove the bandages that caused the allergic reaction to flare up, and refrain from scratching the blisters and red rashes with your fingernails, so as not to break the blisters up(as open blisters might lead to a secondary infection). 

To get rid of the band-aid rash, it is recommended to take oral anti-allergic drugs such as hydrocortisone, cetirizine, Benadryl, or vitamin C. 

Subsequently, apply a topical cream on your skin such as calamine lotion or parisone.

If you know which brand of type of band-aid, which is the culprit, refrain from using it immediately and go for other alternative forms of bandages.

Three alternatives for patients allergic to Band-Aid

There are three alternatives to band-aids, which an allergic patient can try out.

It’s funny when the items that should help heal wounds keep infections away and stop bleeding cause you further discomfort and make your condition worse. If in the unfortunate event, you find out that you’re allergic to a band-aid, specifically allergic to adhesives and latex, there are still ways that’ll help you have a more comfortable healing process.

So how do you get rid of the problem? By following the suggestions below:

Use a skin barrier

People who have band-aid allergy or bandage adhesive allergy are either allergic to the latex, wool, or the adhesive itself or all. Some people will notice when using a band-aid that after peeling the band-aid, a rash will appear in the area where the adhesive contacts the skin. This means they are allergic to adhesives. To avoid this, they can apply the solution of a skin preparation barrier under the adhesive of the band-aid to protect the skin from the adhesive contact dermatitis.

The skin preparation barrier or film not only prevents the allergic reaction caused by the adhesive but also protects the skin from peeling (at least the top layer of the skin) when the band-aid needs to be removed. Caution should be taken as the barrier should not be applied this directly to the face or open wounds, because doing so would it may leave a burning or tingling sensation, and worse, cause a secondary infection or wound poisoning.

Use hypoallergenic tapes

If you can’t hold of the skin preparation barrier above, if you have sensitive skin or if you are allergic to latex instead of adhesive, then your best bet would be to look for some hypoallergenic tape and gauze to protect your wound. Hypoallergenic tapes that contain no latex and strong adhesive chemicals are now widely manufactured, thanks to pharmaceutical companies recognizing the validity of band-aid allergy to certain bandage types, and the irritations they cause on patients with sensitive skin types.

Use gauze with tubular mesh.

If you really can’t use adhesives, the best option is to use gauze with a mesh belt to hold it in place. Gauze bandages are made hypoallergenic, and the tubular band mesh does not use adhesives to hold the bandages in place. Instead, it is an elastic covering wrapped around the wound to prevent the gauze from slipping away from the injury and being removed.

Having extraordinarily delicate and sensitive skin can be difficult to coexist with, and some people need to double their efforts to discover ways to reduce bandaid allergy symptoms. But with a little ingenuity and a little effort, the most cumbersome situation can be solved.


Having an allergy is no fun, this is definitely true to band-aid allergy too. If you’re unsure of why you have an allergic reaction to a band-aid, seeing medical personnel and undergoing an allergy test is most recommended. using over the counter medications as mentioned above will be the best way to get tried of band-aid allergy rash in no time during flare-ups. When everything else fails, you can always use an alternative method as the list above, this should reduce the symptoms from the band-aid allergy.

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Medical Disclaimer

Welcome to Too Allergic. I’m Agnes, I’m not an allergy specialist nor a medical professional, and I’m not posing as such. However, I do enjoy researching and collecting data about things that matter to me, which is about my mom and my son’s allergic condition. Please, do not substitute any information on for professional advice from a licensed medical practitioner, always confirm with your doctor first.