Currently available commercial medical tapes work well to keep medical devices attached to the skin. But removing them can sometimes lead to skin tissue tearing, especially in babies and the elderly — those with the most fragile skin. Skin tears in babies and the elderly can range from skin irritation to permanent scarring.

A research team from Brigham and Women's Hospital Division of Biomedical Engineering, Boston, MA, has invented a quick-release tape that keeps the strong adhesive properties of commercial medical tape, but is much easier to remove.

The tape utilizes a three-layer design approach that incorporates an anisotropic adhesive interface between the backing and adhesive layers. The middle layer has different physical properties dependent on direction. Once the backing is peeled off, any remaining adhesive left on the skin can safely be rolled off with a finger using a "push and roll" technique.

Their study detailing the tape design was electronically published on October 29 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research was conducted in collaboration with Robert Langer, PhD, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.