Elastic Adhesive Bandage (EAB): What is it and How & When to use it?
EAB is a fabric tape with an adhesive backing. The tape is usually made from a cotton-elastic mix, and the adhesive is usually latex-based or acrylic.
Elastic adhesive bandage stretches. The degree of stretch varies with the brand. Usually more expensive tapes have more stretch, but there are exceptions.
As the name suggests, it functions as an adhesive bandage and therefore has a wide range of medical uses. In sports injury treatment, it is usually used to wrap soft tissue injuries to provide compression and support. This helps to limit swelling and protects the affected area.
In sports injury treatment, it is usually used to wrap soft tissue injuries to provide compression and support. This helps to limit swelling and protects the affected area. Because it is adhesive, you can stick it directly to the skin – so unlike a traditional bandage, you don’t need any pins or tape to keep it on.
In addition to this, it can be used as a protective tape to support vulnerable areas, and is widely employed as general purpose ‘utility’ tape in rugby (particularly for forming lineout lifting straps.)
How to Apply Elastic Adhesive Bandage
Prepare the Skin
As with all adhesive tapes, clean and dry skin will give the best stick. The first step is to thoroughly wash and dry the area, being especially careful to get rid of any trace of lotions, creams, moisturizers etc. Because EAB is comparatively heavy and sticky, it tends to stick to hairy body parts better than lighter tapes such as zinc oxide tape (which will often just fall off when applied to hair.) However, removing EAB from hairy areas is really quite painful, so you may wish to shave anyway. Alternatively, try applying EAB over a foam underwrap.
Choose the Right Size
Elastic adhesive bandage comes in several widths: 2.5cm, 5cm, 7.5cm and occasionally 10cm. Unlike zinc oxide tape, EAB is difficult to split neatly along its length – so it is best to choose an appropriate size to begin with. 2.5cm tape is great for fingers and hands, 5cm is good for wrist taping and so on.
For lineout lifting straps, 7.5cm or 10cm tape is best.
Handling the Tape
EAB must be cut with good-quality scissors. It is quite tough, and cannot be torn by hand. Oddly enough, Tuffkut scissors – although designed for shearing through clothing – seem not to handle EAB very well. A good pair of normal medical scissors, (or even dressmaker’s scissors), usually perform better.
When starting to pull EAB off the roll, try to pull with even tension across its width rather than grabbing it at the middle or by one corner. (Tugging from a single point can cause the tape to split or splinter, particularly at the edges.) If you need a long strip of tape, always unwind it as you go – attempting to pull the whole length off at once will result in a sticky mess.
EAB is usually intended as a compression bandage, so it is applied with some degree of tightness. To get the compression, you need to stretch the tape as you apply it – more stretch will give more compression. But don’t go overboard: if the tape is applied too tightly, it may affect blood circulation to the area. After application, always check back for warning signs of constriction – if you notice any discolouration or loss of sensation, remove all the EAB immediately, give the area time to recover and then re-apply less tightly.
As always with adhesive medical tapes, there is a risk of skin irritation and sensitization. Therefore, don’t apply EAB to areas of damaged skin, don’t consistently wear it for long periods, and immediately discontinue use if you notice any skin issues.