Long-term adhesives: Patients have skin in the game

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Patients and caregivers have been looking for an option for long-term adhesives. Users of infusion pumps, colostomy bags, cardiac monitors, glucose monitors, health monitors and other devices worn on the skin have long complained that the adhesives used are not good enough.

wearable medical devices long-term adhesives

[Image courtesy of mbbradford on Wikimedia with Creative Commons]

Long-term adhesives, however, have issues with lift (where part of the adhesive loses stick), pain at removal, and skin condition under the adhesive, says Diana Eitzman, senior laboratory manager at 3M. Further, the needs of patients at age spectrums (very old or very young) are different. They have more tender, fragile skin. For example, at about age 55 the epidermis thins, and skin loses hyaluronic acid, which makes it stiffer.

Eitzman says all patients who have to use devices that require long-term adhesives don’t want to remove them any more than necessary.

With such patient needs in mind, Eitzman, along with 3M’s Medical Materials & Technologies Critical and Chronic Care Solutions Division, Healthcare Business set out to discover all she could about how skin might react after 7 days, 14 days, and perhaps eventually, even longer.

“We learned a lot about the skin,” Eitzman says. “Skin is very dynamic. It sheds constantly.” The top layer, she says, is basically dead skin cells, and it essentially rejuvenates every 14 days. So when Eitzman’s group began to look at age and cell turnover issues, they realized how complicated it would be to adhere to skin over an extended period of time.

Eitzman presented the results of a directional study on what materials can be used in long-term wound dressings. Her findings showed that silicones were not reliable, but that acrylates can be used.

“The acrylates are really the go-to product for the longer term—silicone tends to have a shorter wear life.”

There is a wide variety of acrylate chemistries, says Eitzman. She says it comes down to formulating and processing correctly to modify the adhesive characteristics.

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