This isn’t as much a product review as it is a public service announcement: Every cyclist should have an assortment of 3M Nexcare waterproof bandages at home, and maybe even a couple in your pack. They’re pretty special. If you know, you know. And if you don’t, Travis Engel is here to explain why they’re nothing like the band-aids you used as a kid.
I stopped using band-aids as soon as I hit my high-school years. Up until then, it was one of those perfectly reasonable things my parents insisted on, which I promptly abandoned once I gained some independence. And then, as with most decisions I made as a teenager, I eventually reversed course. But it took a while. Not only because I remained a teenager well into my thirties, but also because band-aids kinda suck. They never stay on, and they don’t seem to fully protect the wound. They work fine if you don’t sweat. Or move. Or ever come into contact with physical objects. But I wanted to be able to put a recent wound inside a knee pad or glove or shoe without pulling it out two hours later to find an open invitation to infection. I discovered the solution during a hospital visit to treat a ruptured spleen.
That’s a whole other story. Point is, I noticed how well the dressing around the IV worked. It was an ultra-thin, clear, flexible, durable film over where the catheter entered the skin. I assumed it was one of those cool things you only have access to if you’re a doctor. Like stethoscopes or morphine. But I asked a nurse about it, and he gave me a stack of the stuff. “3M Tegaderm Film,” it said on the package. Tegaderm pads are specialty items, great for securely holding and sealing non-stick gauze over a large wound. They’re great, but *knock on wood* I rarely need them. A quick Google search took me to a more low-key, everyday solution, the Nexcare bandage.
These are structurally like any other 360-degree-adhesion bandage. A non-stick pad in the middle of a sheet of sticky material. But that material is actually that clear film the hospital used to dress my IV. It’s extremely flimsy to the touch, which is why you can’t just put it on like a sticker. There’s a bit of a process to it, where you need to leave a couple stiff paper application tabs on the outside of the bandage until it’s in place. Then, once you peel them off, the Nexcare bandage feels truly like a second skin. It’s so thin, that no accidental rubbing could possibly get underneath it and set it peeling. And it’s so flexible that it moves seamlessly with your skin, with no tugging. And as long as you don’t go overboard with antibiotic, no reasonable amount of seepage from under the non-stick pad will ever cause it to leak. You just make sure the area is clean and dry, and it’ll stay on until you want it off. And surprisingly, these aren’t significantly more expensive than traditional band-aids. Those Tegaderm sheets are pretty pricy at a couple bucks each, but they’re just for special occasions. You can get a 60-pack of Nexcare bandages for under $10.
I don’t think I need to offer a gross-out trigger warning when we’re obviously dealing with open wounds here. I’ve already used the word “seepage.” But I may really be about to cross a threshold by talking about body hair. Nexcare doesn’t have a magic solution for furry folk. I’m not one of them, but I still prefer to shave around the area before applying the bandage if it’s something serious. They’re a little more tolerant of hair because the adhesive material is so flexible. It’ll reach the skin around obstacles whenever possible. But to get the full effect, I recommend going in smooth.
Removing the bandage isn’t much more painful than a traditional bandage. But I’ve found I have to pay a little closer attention during the healing period. Because they’re so comfortable and secure, it’s easy to just ignore these things and not regularly re-dress the wound. Of course, whether that’s even important depends on how severe a wound we’re talking about. For the most part, I’m dealing with the occasional puncture wound from riding overly brushy trails. They can go deep, and if I need a knife and tweezers to extract something on the trail, my Nexcare bandages are already within reach, so I’ll usually pop one on for peace of mind while I’m still out in the dirt, and then when I’m back in civilization, I’ll pull it off, clean it, and call it good. But for the more annoying injuries that result from a crash, like rock gouges or mini road rash, life is just more pleasant if I use one of these things for the first couple days. It makes sleeping and showering so much easier, and gives me extra peace of mind about infections. My parents would be proud.
- Secure and comfortable to use
- Truly waterproof
- A little complicated to apply properly
- Only one skin tone available