I have a family member who has very sensitive skin. Sometimes He will have a cut or scrape or some such that needs to be covered with an adhesive bandage. While peeling off the bandage, the adhesive sometimes tears his skin further, despite that fact that we tried to remove it gently.

So, are there any ways to break down the adhesive or moisturize the area before removing? Water works sometimes, but other times it would be best not to use it.

Its required to remove the bandage to remove I.V. dressings.

  • Use a regular band aid? They don't stick to the wound. – J. Musser Jan 7 '15 at 17:27
  • @J.Musser band-aid is the brand name, while a bandage is what it is really called as. – Joachin Joseph Jan 7 '15 at 23:43
  • @JoachinJoseph yes, but there are many types of bandages. A band aid is simply a brand/style that won't stick to the wound, which is why I mentioned it. – J. Musser Jan 7 '15 at 23:45
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    @J.Musser But the question emphasizes adhesives sticking on thin/sensitive skin not the wound, isn't? Band-aids are smaller tape kinds which cannot be applied for the bigger wounds. – Joachin Joseph Jan 8 '15 at 0:06
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    What makes the skin so super sensitive? Is your family member a small child? Does it have skin sicknesses (neurodermatitis)? Do you regularly apply medication that contains cortisone? Did you ask your doctor? Skin should not rip open by removing bandage. If you don't know why that happens, see a doctor. – Angelo Fuchs Jan 8 '15 at 12:14

15 Answers 15


An easy way to remove bandages is to apply either baby oil or olive oil. Simply dip a cotton ball or a q-tip (preferably a cotton ball) into the oil and gently rub it on the bandage until it comes off. This is a very easy, cheap, and painless method for removing bandages. I use it all the time.

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    Using foodstuffs and unsterilized materials on open wounds is not a wise idea. Oils can become rancid. There are self-stick wraps available with no adhesive whatsoever. There are also low-tack (adhesive) bandages and adhesive release agents that are no volatile for pressure or chemical sensitivity. I.V. sterilization is NOT a trivial matter. Consult with responsible medical professionals. – Stan May 9 '16 at 1:30

I don't have any other solution for you, besides using a dedicated adhesive remover like this one. They're pretty cheap, at ~$10 for 50 wipes, though you could probably find them cheaper if you tried.

I've used them (though not on regular bandaids, admittedly), and they work as advertised, though I've never had the problem of thin skin that rips.


Though it's similar to Gwenn's answer, I feel like it's worth mentioning Self-Adhesive Wrapping. There's no glue or pins.

  1. You just put down gauze (or whatever)
  2. Wrap it.
  3. Cut or tear like duct tape.
  4. Then peel it off when finished.

enter image description here

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    This material is fantastic. It is something between a Tensor bandage (for a sprain) and crepe paper. It sticks to itself but not to you. Removing it is painless and will not reinjure delicate skin. – Kate Gregory Dec 4 '16 at 21:40

Is it not acceptable just to leave it in place and let it fall off itself after a few days? So long as it's a "breathable" type there's no immediate need to remove it I would have thought.

Alternatively, maybe try an ACTUAL bandage wrapped around and pinned rather than glued - or an elastic version? You would use a gauze or pad under the bandage to do the protective work and the bandage just holds that in place.

  • It depends on the situation... There are some cases that would be okay and others (like an I.V. dressing) that must come off. – L.B. Jan 8 '15 at 12:11
  • @L.B. Whats an I.V. dressing? – Angelo Fuchs Jan 8 '15 at 12:16
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    @AngeloFuchs The tape that fits around an intravenous tube. multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/752589P/… – L.B. Jan 8 '15 at 12:17

Depending on the kind of glue used ethanol works great for this. You can get pure un-denatured ethanol at your pharmacy if its a prohibited item in your country (as it is in mine).

Apply very small doses of it as larger spills will irritate seriously sensitive skin. You might want to use cotton swaps. Just put the ethanol on the outside of the bandage above the glue and it will fall off by itself after a minute or so.

If any rips occur while removing the bandage you can use this as sterilizer as well. I've heard that there are ethanol based sterilizers as well, they should be best as they are meant to be used on injured skin.

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    Do be aware that ethanol has quite a bit of sting to it when it reaches open wounds – holroy Aug 23 '15 at 16:28

Instead of using a bandage with adhesive, you can use gauze pads and an elastic bandage (commonly called Ace bandages).

Usually this is used for large wounds too large to cover with small adhesive bandages, but you can also use it as a general-purpose alternative to adhesive bandages. If the bandage is too long, you can cut it to be shorter.

This is what I have in mind:

enter image description here


Here is a product that really does work wonders for either removing the bandaid or removing the gum from the bandaid after it is removed. I use it to remove the patch around my continuous glucose monitor and the leftover goop from lidocaine patches. I hope that this helps. I do disclose that I have no financial gain in recommending this product.

  • I just recently used a similar product to remove the gunk from a heart monitor patch, it worked great! Thanks for the link! :) – L.B. Jun 26 '17 at 13:19

Rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip is perfect. Start at the very edge of the bandage with a saturated Q-tip, and peel back the bandage as it loosens. I find this faster and cleaner than using petroleum jelly and/or baby oil.

To avoid stings, go slowly and don't force the adhesive.

  • While I agree this should work I am not sure it will be compatible with the "very sensitive skin" part. – CRSouser Aug 27 '15 at 0:52
  • CRSouser - I briefly researched the impact of rubbing alcohol on sensitive skin. Most of it advises against repeated use (e.g. in cosmetics). – nississima Aug 27 '15 at 15:57
  • Sorry, I hit save too soon. @CRSouser, I agree from a comfort perspective. However... I briefly researched the impact of rubbing alcohol on sensitive skin. Most of it advises against repeated use (e.g. in cosmetics). However, I have to assume given its prevalence in healthcare means that it's mostly acceptable when trying to keep an area hygienic. It may sting but this is due to the open wound and exposed nerves. Any other agents are either unsanitary, particularly on thin or sensitive skin. To to me, it's the best and safest of all choices. – nississima Aug 27 '15 at 16:04

Either submerge the area in water or cover the area with a wet cloth so the area gets and stays wet for at least 10 minutes. If it is wet long enough the bandage will come right off.

Trust me I've been a lifeguard for years--even "water proof" bandages don't stay on very long once they are wet.


Instead of using Olive Oil, or any other non-sterile oil, use Vitamin E. Use a needle to puncture the capsule and apply the vitamin e liberally around the edges of the bandage.

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    Why would vitamin E be any more sterile than olive oil? – Chenmunka Apr 19 '17 at 7:36

You can also use a tubular net mesh. It comes in different sizes to accommodate different body areas. It can be washed and reused. Here is an example:


It is available in many pharmacies.

  • I'm pretty sure this is what I call the "Asian pear wrap" material. If so, it's great for holding an IV in place but not so great for holding a bandage on if the person moves at all. It also is best used on your hand, wrist and forearm (since they are small and round) and less so on other parts of the body. – Kate Gregory May 24 '17 at 11:15

Instead of using adhesive bandages - "bandaides" - at all use nonstick first aid pad/gauze and paper tape. Paper tape has a different adhesive which does not bond to skin as strongly as 'bandaide' glue, and is also less chemically irritating. It stays on just as well as the usual plastic or fabric tape.


Coloplast adhesive remover. My little boy had to have the dressing changed on his central line bi weekly. Spray it on, wait 15 second and the bandage peels off like a 3M post it note. It's a staple at the local children's hospital in the oncology floor. A little pricey but worth every penny.


Mayonnaise works for me. Put some on, rub it in, wash it off. Might have to do it a couple times.

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    Could you back up or reference why mayonnaise is good for this? Is it clean enough to be used in or around a wound? – holroy Aug 23 '15 at 14:17
  • @holroy Would like it if the person answering would back those things up. However, I think for very occasional use, assuming the wound will be cleaned immediately after removal and the fact that store bought has been thoroughly processed would make it safe, but not necessarily recommendable. – L.B. Aug 23 '15 at 16:18

Try spraying "Goo Gone" under the bandage or tape as you slowly pull off. Go slow enough to allow the adhesive to dissolve slightly and spray as you go.

Edit: Goo Gone does have a product specifically for bandage adhesive http://googone.com/products/goo-gone-skin/

  • That is bad to get into cuts. I imagine you also might get a reaction from using it on extremely thin skin. – J. Musser Jan 8 '15 at 3:45
  • I've used it. Didn't have any adverse effect around my injuries. – subjectivist Jan 8 '15 at 6:09
  • I think this is an interesting idea... But I'm not sure I could recommend it :) – L.B. Jan 8 '15 at 12:11

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