What Is Zinc Oxide Tape?

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  • Written By: Andrew Kirmayer
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2020
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Zinc oxide tape is a product generally used to prevent sports injuries, protect wounds, and help cuts heal faster. It is often applied by athletes to protect the knee, wrist, ankle, or other joints of the body, and can support muscle to stabilize injured ligaments. The tape usually remains intact when worn for a long time and can also tolerate moisture. Typically conforming to the area where it is applied, zinc oxide tape is normally sticky and does not stretch. If it is wrapped around large muscles during activity, therefore, discomfort and restriction of blood flow can occur.

There are various brands of zinc oxide tape, but most of the time it comes in rolls. The tape may need to be cut with scissors but sometimes the edges are perforated, so pieces can be torn off by hand. A choice of widths and lengths is usually available, while the size of the pack is often selectable based on what is required. Many sporting goods stores and even online retailers sell the tape and other zinc oxide products.


During sports activities, or if in conditions where the feet are vulnerable, the sports tape can be applied to prevent blisters. The product generally incorporates other uses of zinc oxide, particularly its potential for helping wounds to heal. Researchers have found that zinc can be absorbed by the skin, bone, and pancreas. In a wound, scientists think it might help synthesize proteins and contribute to cellular metabolism to repair tissue. Zinc oxide tape and similar dressings are often used on burns, ulcers on the legs, and fingertip injuries; substances can even be absorbed into the body directly from the product.

The tape has often been used on wounds that don’t heal or are in places that are exposed to pressure from motion and clothing. Researchers generally recommend its use on simple cuts and bruises, and to apply it after the initial bleeding has stopped. Zinc oxide tape is typically not painful to apply or take off. Manual laborers can use it after being injured and often return to work after the material is placed on a wound.

Compared to other types of sports tape, such as medicated gauze for example, zinc oxide tape is usually inexpensive. It can also protect wounds without getting in the way of the function of hands or feet. While the tape is usually beneficial, exercises and other therapies during healing may still be needed, so a combination of treatments is sometimes required.


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