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Rash from surgical tape
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Rash from surgical tape

7 weeks ago, I underwent a radioulnar joint reconstruction with a palmar tendon graft on my left wrist.  I had two incisions, one volar and one dorsal. Approx. 1 1/2 weeks post surgery I was placed in a long arm cast, at which time the doc removed a number of strips of tapefrom the incisions. There was a fluid filled blister on the top leg of the volar incision, but no sign of infection. Three weeks later, I was put in a Munster cast.  A week and a half later, I complained of a blister-like feeling on my forearm so the nurse replaced the cast. There was still a blister on the incision, and there was also a nickel sized patch of red skin covered with thin clear blisters lower on the inside of my wrist.  Well, several days later my wrist started itching ferociously. Antihistamines helped somewhat but by that Teus, when I was scheduled to have the cast removed and switch to a splint, I was ready to fire up the cast cutter myself.  What I found was the entire area around both scars was blistered, with several spots rubbed raw from the cast. The part of the volar ins. that had the blister looks substantially healed, but the surface skin (about 1/2 inch) is open and oozing.  My orthapedist thinks the rash is a reaction to the tape and that I shouldn't do anything to any of it. Since the cast was removed three days ago,it has improved but is still oozy, sore and a bit itchy. My problem is, I'm in a very snug fitting plastic splint, and it feels...pretty much like yould expect when putting pressure on raw,irritated skin.  Even using a sock as lining for the splint it gets very sweaty and unpleasant.  
-What should I do to help the rash heal?
-Does this mean I should avoid this tape(I think it was Steristrips) in future, or could it just be long exposure to the adhesive under the cast(I am sensitive to other tapes)?
-Should I be concerned about the raw bit of the ins. scarring?  Is it better to leave it alone or can I put something over it lik a bandage to keep it from being irritated?
Should  I see a dermatologist?(I could if you really think I need to but I am swamped at the moment with PT, two small children etc.)
Thanks a whole bunch.
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I think you are describing irritation from long exposure, rather than tape allergy.  The way to see whether it's allergy is to use the tape again.  If nothing happens, it wasn't allergy, and such allergy to Steristrips is rare.  I don't think I've ever seen it.

Whether this is allergy or irritation, you don't need to be concerned about scarring, since only the epidermis is involved either way.

For the moment I think you'll be able to promote healing by leaving the area open as much as allowed, cleansing gently, applying a bland ointment like zinc oxide, and waiting.  If the rash spreads or fails to improve after another 5 days, then I would indeed see a dermatologist.

Best.

Dr. Rockoff
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