It hurts to remove adhesive bandages because of the way they're designed. Most are made of one layer of cloth or plastic on top of a layer of adhesive, which sticks to the skin and hair. When a person pulls the bandage off, it pulls on the skin and hair as it's removed, causing pain. This can be a larger concern for very young or old people who have thinner skin, in which case the adhesive can actually cause the skin to tear. In fact, around 1.5 million injuries a year are caused by removing adhesive bandages.
More on bandages:
- Some types of adhesive bandages are designed to be pain-free when removed. These have the adhesive separate away from the bandage instead of the skin during removal so that there's less pulling. Other prototype designs for pain-free bandages are made of natural materials that degrade over time, meaning that a person wouldn't have to remove them at all.
- One easy way to remove a bandage painlessly is to gently rub oil or lotion onto the bandaged area until the bandage comes off. Heating it with a hairdryer before removal can also soften the adhesive and make it easier to pull off.
- Research indicates that removing an adhesive bandage slowly is more painful than removing it quickly. One study from Australian scientists found that people rated the pain from pulling a bandage off slowly to be about a 1.58 on a 1 to 10 scale, as opposed to 0.92 for removing it quickly.