The stratum corneum is thinner than a standard sheet of paper yet plays a critical role in the body’s resistance to damage and infection. Key biological functions of the stratum corneum include a first line of defense against environmental insults and pathogens, regulation of hydration, exclusion of external toxins and allergens, and initiation of repair processes. To help preserve the integrity of the body’s most important protective barrier, a team of research scientists* has developed a novel model to quantitatively compare medical adhesive products in terms of their potential to disrupt the skin and its barrier function. Tape products were placed on healthy humans, and following product wear and removal, skin health was assessed by evaluating stratum corneum disruption, inflammation and loss of barrier function. Tests included quantification of total protein and number of corneocytes stripped from the skin at tape removal, changes in trans-epidermal water loss rates, and quantification of cytokine expression for monitoring inflammation post tape removal. Results showed significant differences between tape adhesives with respect to total protein and corneocyte stripping, barrier function, and changes in inflammatory response. Initially, this new adhesive-skin health model will be used internally, with the future goal of developing it into an industry standard to enable the comparison of medical adhesive-based products. A model-derived scoring assessment can help clinicians identify products that are gentle to skin while also providing desired securement.
*Science of Skin team, 3M, St. Paul, MN