Medical Grade Skin Contact Adhesives

When considering the best skin contact adhesive, designers often begin by defining the project and considering the specific benefits of each type of adhesive. At Polymer Science, we offer three primary categories of skin contact adhesives: silicone gel adhesives, hydrogels, and medical grade acrylics. In this article, we explore some of the key qualities and uses of these different materials.

Silicone gel adhesives are often the go-to choice for skin contact applications such as medical tapes, wearable medical devices, and moist wound dressings. And for good reason. Overall, they can offer reliable adhesion that is also biocompatible with and provides atraumatic, pain-free removal from the skin. These types of adhesives are an excellent choice for wound care products in particular, as they promote healing by resisting chemicals, water, outside contamination, and biological growth, as well as provide moisture control.

While there are many types of adhesives available to medical product manufacturers, silicone gels are one of the most applicable, as they can be used for both short- and long-term applications and are gentle on the skin. Here is a closer look at silicone gels and how they compare to other types of skin contact adhesives.

Silicone Gels

Silicone gel adhesives are made from inorganic, flexible, and durable polymers that naturally conform to the body’s unique contours. They are resistant to chemicals, water, bacteria, and contaminants, enabling them to provide protection and promote healing. Depending on the need, these adhesives can be made for short-term applications and easy repositioning (scar therapy, wound care) or with a higher adhesion composition for long-term wear (ostomy care, wearable devices).

Silicone gel adhesives are generally hydrophobic, hypoallergenic, and resistant to bacteria, all of which aid in healing and patient comfort. They are among the most versatile kind of skin contact adhesive and can be used for a variety of applications, including:

  • Advanced wound dressings
  • Negative pressure wound therapy
  • Ostomy flanges and flange extenders
  • Incontinence gaskets and seals
  • Active passive wearable devices
  • IV securement
  • Medical tapes
  • Bandages and dressings

Two key qualities of silicone gel adhesives: conforming to the body and repositioning, make these materials a preferred choice in many wound applications and products that require long term wear like glucose monitoring devices.


Hydrogels are acrylate-based, non-conductive materials used in products meant to be affixed to the body (transdermal drug application, burn care, etc.). This kind of adhesive is highly flexible, comfortable on, and gentle on skin, which is why it is often used in products for trauma and emergency care. Additional applications include:

  • General fixation
  • Household hygiene products and blister care
  • Moist wound dressings
  • Minor burn care
  • Transdermal drug delivery
  • Active and passive wearable devices

Like silicone gel adhesives, hydrogels are biocompatible with skin and hypoallergenic. Because hydrogels absorb skin moisture, they are preferred for products with a wear time of up to 7 days.

Medical-Grade Acrylics and Adhesives

This group includes acrylic, polyurethane, and hot-melt adhesives that can be laminated to different kinds of materials, such as films, foam, and fabrics. Medical-grade acrylic transfer adhesives, film tapes, and foam tapes can bond instantly to both porous and non-porous materials and can be used in many applications, including:

  • In-vitro diagnostic
  • IV securement
  • Bandages and dressings
  • Cosmetic and fashion adhesives
  • Ostomy flanges and flange extenders
  • Negative pressure wound therapy
  • Active and passive wearable devices

Like silicone gels and hydrogels, medical-grade acrylics and adhesives are hypoallergenic, biocompatible, provide atraumatic removal for optimal patient comfort, and shape to fit the body’s contours.

However, they also have a high moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR) and can resist heat and humidity, making them optimal for extended wear. Additionally, medical-grade acrylics and adhesives can often be combined with silicone gel adhesives to create dynamic skin-contact trilaminate materials.

How Polymer Science Can Help You

Polymer Science has been providing innovative skin contact adhesives to the medical industry for decades. Our P-DERM® line of silicone gels, hydrogels, and medical-grade acrylics and adhesives have been expertly developed to serve the needs of today’s applications.

We can help you determine which adhesive to choose for your products and then develop a customized solution that fits your business needs. We offer:

  • Roll production in various widths, lengths, and constructions
  • A flexible manufacturing process that allows for batch prototyping and lower minimum order quantities
  • Corona treatment technology for surface energy modification
  • Perforation of one or multiple layers in standard and custom patterns
  • Cosmeceutical, pharmaceutical, and antimicrobial actives that can be added to adhesives

When you need help with medical-grade skin contact adhesives, contact Polymer Science or explore our P-DERM® medical coatings, tapes and adhesives.