How to Remove Tape Residue from the Skin

Pressure-sensitive adhesives—medical tapes, wound dressings, and plastic bandages—can leave sticky residue on the skin. But removing such residue is always stressful to many people, including nurses. Even worse, removing them can cause certain medical adhesive-related injuries such as skin stripping, bleeding, blisters, or erythema.

However, when left unattended, these residues act like magnets for dirt and debris. Besides, the sticky glue is unsightly and can irritate the skin.

So, how can you remove these tape residues from the skin? Well, there are several strategies that you can use, including:

Warm Water

This is the least expensive way of removing sticky tape residue from the sin. Moisture or warmth makes the adhesive in the tape residue more pliable.

Soak the affected area in warm water or simply take a warm shower. The residue will either come off on its own or you can scrub it gently using a mild abrasive pad.

Nail Polish

Nail polish remover has acetone, a chemical solvent, which is known to break down glues and adhesives. Drench a clean cotton ball with the polish remover and let it stick on the tape residue for 1-2 minutes then rub off the residue. Rinse the remover and apply a suitable moisturizer to hydrate the affected area.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl Alcohol breaks down the glue component of the adhesive, releasing the tape residue from the skin. Soak a clean cotton ball with the alcohol and rub it gently on the affected area in a circular motion. Repeat the processes a few times if the residue doesn’t come off in one try.


Bath oil, vegetable oil, mineral oil, baby oil, or cooking oil softens the adhesive and loosens its grip from your skin. Put some oil on a clean cotton ball then squeeze to remove excess oil. Rub the oil-coated cotton ball on the affected area.

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly can break down the glue on the tape residue, removing it from the surface of the skin. Smear a generous amount of the jelly on the tape residue and wait for 30 minutes before you rub it off the skin. One good thing about Petroleum jelly is that it can even be applied in sensitive areas such as near the eyes.

Body Lotion

Most body lotions have lipid bases, making them ideal solutions for getting tape residue off the skin. Rub a small amount of body residue on the affected areas and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Gently massage the area with a clean cotton ball or soft towel.


This is another inexpensive, painless, and safe method of removing tape resides from the skin. Smear a layer of shampoo on the affected area then cover with a damp cloth. Allow it to settle for 5-10 minutes then rub the area gently to remove the lingering traces of the tape residue. Rinse well with clean water and repeat when necessary.

Cold Compress/Ice

Also considered to be one of the safest methods, ice will protect the affected area from potential infection or irritation. It is suitable for removing tape residue in areas with open wounds and cuts.

Tape residue removal from the skin is a combination of knowledge and skills. No single solution is fit for every patient or area of the skin, so understanding how each strategy works can go a long way in ensuring safe removal. Hopefully, the above list will point you in the right direction as far as safe tape residue removal from the skin is concerned.