The Bandaid Allergy Saga

A few years ago I began to notice I would often get a red, rash-looking area where the sticky part of a bandaid had been. Usually this happened on my arms, and would disappear after a few days with not itching or anything. Since this was an un-

bothersome occurrence I mostly ignored it until it began to get worse.

As often can happen with allergies, this little issue with using bandaids gradually became worse, to the point of developing a red area after having a bandaid on for a few hours, that would take days to disappear.

I am one of those people who is pretty bad about going to the doctors. I go for my yearly physical and if I have any big issues, but I tend it decide if an issue is big when it lasts for more than a week. Many a times I have discovered I have had bronchitis or a sinus infection only after suffering for a week and a half, convincing myself that it’s just a cold. Recently, I went for a follow-up on an ankle sprain that was still bothering me… a year after the sprain happened.

I blame this illness denial and anti-alarmist attitude on my mother, Momma Bunni; the woman who has to be in dire pain or dragged by yours truly to see a doctor. This includes the time she thought her appendix might have burst, but wanted to wait and see how she felt in the morning (it turned out to just be a bad case of kidney stones thankfully).

And so rather than going for an allergy test or consulting my doctor, I decided to try and figure out this bandaid reaction through a few little experiments and some internet research. After the initial web searching I determined I likely have an allergy to the adhesive, or one of its ingredients, used in bandaids. I took a trip to my local pharmacy and bought 5 various types and brands of bandaids then slapped them on my arm and waited to see what was going to happen.

I stuck the 5 different types in a line down the inside if my upper arm and left them for 24-hours. As usually happens, nothing much shows up right after the bandaids come off, but as the skin readjusts to being uncovered the redness shows up. For the first time I discovered some of the bandaids had left blisters where the edges of the adhesives had landed.

Since I have never gotten blisters before I am not sure if it is due to the length of time I left them bandaids on for, the area I picked being a bit more sensitive, or if it is just a sign of the reaction becoming more severe.

All in all this experiment left a few more questions but also gave me a few solutions. For example, it seems that the CVS brand bandaids bother my skin most. The Band-Aid brand and Curad brand did not result in blisters, while the various CVS brand one did.

I have also learned that it is very difficult to get a list of what ingredients are used in the adhesives for bandaids of any brand. In various forum discussions and message boards I was able to find many people who also suffer from this odd allergy, many who have it much worse than I do. While common answer to the question of the precise source of the allergy is often rosin – which is found in all types of adhesives, perfumes, cosmetics, soaps, etc. – I am not yet convinced that is the culprit for my allergy.

Perhaps a trip to the doctor for an allergy test is needed after all.

Here are the various bandaids I tried for the allergy experiment
Here are the various bandaids I tried for the allergy experiment
The blisters and marks left after wearing the bandaids for 24 hours
The blisters and marks left after wearing the bandaids for 24 hours
placement of the different types of bandaids
placement of the different types of bandaids – inside of my upper arm

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