Gentle Silicone Gel Adhesive Systems Revolutionize Direct Skin Pressure Sensitive Adhesives

An update on the latest pressure sensitive adhesives used to attach medical devices and dressings to the skin without causing tenderness or discomfort

By Dr. Jim Jian-Ling Ding, Vice President - Global Technology Scapa Group plc

Geriatric, neonatal, and diabetic populations are rapidly increasing. In response to this trend, the adhesive industry has been challenged to develop medical grade pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) systems that bond securely yet gently to extremely sensitive or fragile skin for continuous long-term wear. The most demanding applications for PSAs include wounds such as burns that involve tissue loss, wounds caused by abrasions or chronic diseases (for example, diabetic ulcers or pressure sores), and wounds such as skin graft donor sites.

Traditional acrylic and rubber-based adhesives offer good adhesion to the skin, sometimes bonding so aggressively that they cause surface irritation
and discomfort upon removal. The strength of the adhesive strips surface
skin cells off upon removal. Over long-term wear, ripping, tearing and tugging can inflame the wound area and diminish critical healing agents.

Skin can become sensitive to and irritated by the chemicals found in both rubber and acrylic adhesives. As most acrylic and rubber-based adhesive products do not withstand exposure to moisture, skin may become macerated over long-term wear as a result of excess moisture build-up beneath the
adhesive system.

New silicone gel technology

Pressure sensitive silicone gel adhesive technology is revolutionizing sensitive skin care and meeting the challenges associated with today's direct skin applications. These soft, water-resistant adhesives gently bond to the skin.
Non-irritating and conformable, silicone gel adhesives are used for neonatal care, medical device attachment, wound care, skin therapy, and hypertrophic scar management.

Silicone gel is a man-made polymeric material made up of silicone- polydimethyl siloxane. Its unique chemical composition results in a soft gel- like physical form and its hydrophobic properties ensure stable adhesion.
Given the presence of moisture in many medical applications, this is a critical advantage of silicone gel technology.

While silicone gel is tacky to the touch, it is very easy to remove and does not leave adhesive residue on most substrates. Due to its very low surface tension and excellent ability to flow and wet-out, silicone gel conforms to the uneven micro-surface of the skin, filling minute gaps and delivering a much broader contact area than traditional adhesives. It adheres to skin securely, forming an immediate bond even on contoured areas of the body.

Silicone gel does not form a permanent bond. Its fundamental softness and pliability allow it to be easily and cleanly removed without trauma, no matter how long it's been on the skin's surface. Skin cells will not lift off when the adhesive is removed, a factor that can damage the skin after repeated removal. Silicone gel does not lose adhesion when removed from the skin, so devices and dressings utilizing these adhesives can be washed with water, air dried, and reused if necessary.

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