Scientists create high-tech patch that adheres tightly to skin and is painless to remove

September 20, 2022  21:37

A high-tech patch that peels off without traumatizing the skin or pulling out hair could make treating cuts and wounds much less painful.

The experimental patch, developed by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania (USA), peels off the skin painlessly after it is moistened with water for a few seconds, the Daily Mail writes. 

But while it's on the skin, it holds up twice as well as existing bandages, making it less likely to contact wounds with bacteria, dirt or friction that can slow their healing rate.

The patch is designed for use on wounds that may require treatment at home or in the hospital.

Standard adhesive options can be almost as painful to remove as the wound itself - especially if the skin underneath is soft or hairy.

When the patch is removed, the glue can peel away the outer stratum corneum, causing severe pain.

However, the Pennsylvania team has developed patches with stronger adhesion (since many of those currently in use can peel off quickly, putting the wound at risk for infection) but are less painful to remove.

The adhesive used in the new patch contains a chemical called vinyl alcohol, which is often found in pots of PVA glue used in classrooms, and boric acid, another chemical often used in antiseptic lotions, according to results published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists found that when boric acid atoms come into contact with vinyl alcohol, the pair combines to form a very strong adhesive. But when the glue is exposed to water for just 30 seconds, those same atoms quickly separate from the alcohol molecules and combine with water molecules. This instantly strips the glue of its adhesive properties.

Separate tests on mice have shown that it remains virtually intact when hair is removed.

Scientists are planning further studies and hope that this will lead to the "next generation" of wound dressing adhesives.

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