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Thursday, February 25, 1999 Published at 00:02 GMT


Painless plaster leaves skin intact

The plaster is "switched off" by exposure to light

UK scientists have developed a sticking plaster that does not hurt or take off a layer of skin and hairs when it is removed.

BBC Health Correspondent James Westhead: "A first aid revolution"
The plaster could be particularly useful in treating premature babies and elderly people, both of whom suffer from fragile skin.

As people get older, their skin becomes thinner and more fragile. Frequent changes of traditional dressings can cause permanent damage.

James Westhead: Babies and the elderly will benefit
To remove the new plaster a black backing is pulled off, leaving the adhesive strip still attached to the skin.

The adhesive dissolves when exposed to light, and the strip can be peeled off painlessly.

Trials have shown that the plaster reduces pain and skin loss by two-thirds.

[ image: Dr Iain Webster said the plaster was a major breakthrough]
Dr Iain Webster said the plaster was a major breakthrough
Developer Dr Iain Webster, from Smith & Nephew Research, the company which invented Elastoplast, said: "There have been very few developments in adhesive technology, particularly in trauma.

"This is almost the holy grail of adhesive formulators - to try to produce an adhesive to come off without pain to the wearer."

Consultant dermatologist Dr Anne Myatt said: "Not only would be pleasant for the patient because there is no pain, it would be much less likely to damage the skin surrounding the sore.

"It would also be much better for the nursing staff because they would be confident the treatment they were giving was not going to make the patient uncomfortable."

The plaster is still in development, and will not be commercially available for another two years.

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