Zinc oxide tapes are made of cotton and/or polyester and have a zinc oxide adhesive mass backing. They can adhere directly to the skin as well as to other surfaces.
They will support less highly contoured body areas at a lower cost than if using elastic adhesive tapes. However, due to their lack of elasticity, most non elastic adhesives perform less satisfactorily in application to contoured areas. For example, when seeking to stabilize contoured areas like the shoulder or elbow, a rigid tape (see below) may be preferred.
Zinc oxide tapes fall into two categories. Some are basic cotton tapes with a zinc oxide based adhesive. Others (rigid strapping tapes like that from DynaPro Health) have a rayon backing and use a stronger zinc oxide adhesive.
The more powerful adhesive in rigid strapping tapes provides additional support and stability and prevents injury. However, this adhesive may cause medical reactions in certain individuals. In these cases it may be necessary to wear a hypoallergenic fixing bandage between the tape and the skin.
Latex Free Zinc Oxide Tape
You can also buy these tapes with or without latex. Latex free tapes like DynaPro Health Porous Zinc Oxide Tape are more easily tolerated over long periods of time by individuals with a history of latex allergies. They are also less likely to cause adverse reactions from individuals with generally sensitive skin.
Porous Zinc Oxide tape
Another important sub category of these tapes is that consisting of porous tapes. These tapes have a construction that allows the athlete’s sweat to migrate through the material of the tape.
The result is that the athlete’s skin remains cool and dry underneath the tape. The athlete’s natural body temperature is maintained.
How To Measure the Quality Of Zinc Oxide Tape
Just as is the case with elastic adhesive tapes, you can determine the quality of a zinc oxide tape based on the following:
The number of longitudinal and vertical cotton fibers per square inch of tape backing. The highest quality tapes tend to have 85 longitudinal fibers per square inch. Likewise, they will also tend to be made with at least 65 vertical fibers per square inch.
Lower quality zinc oxide tapes, on the other hand, have 65 or fewer longitudinal fibers. They also tend to have no more than 45 vertical fibers per square inch of backing.
The amount and durability of the zinc oxide adhesive backing is another important factor in assessing the quality of a zinc oxide tape.
The adhesive needs to be of a quality and amount that will withstand the twisting and other forces exerted by the athlete during activity. It will also need to be capable of withstanding moisture (primarily perspiration) and mud during use. It must even withstand adverse weather conditions while being worn.
Finally, a high quality zinc oxide tape will come off the roll with even and fluid tension. This is an indicator of the uniform application of adhesive along the tape. Some trainers can assess the quality of the adhesive backing by listening to the sound during unwinding of the roll.
Uses Of Zinc Oxide Tape
Zinc oxide tape is widely used:
By athletes to prevent soft tissue and other sports injuries;
To immobilise joints and provide support to them. This is useful for treating and rehabilitating soft tissue injuries like sprains or strains;
To secure elastic wraps to the body in order to prevent, treat or rehabilitate a sports injury;
To secure pads to the body to prevent sports injuries from collisions or falling. They can also be used to treat such injuries. The pads can protect the injured area of the body from subsequent blows that could retard healing;
To secure wound dressings in place, especially during sports action when those dressings could otherwise be displaced.
Applying Zinc Oxide Tape
In applying zinc oxide tape, we suggest adhering to the following general principles:
Ensure that the area to which you intend to apply the tape is clean and free of moisture, oils or lotions. These foreign agents can compromise the effectiveness of the adhesive. The tape will then be less effective in providing the joint support required;
If the area to which the tape will be applied has body hair, it may be necessary to shave this area before application of the zinc oxide tape;
As a general rule, the trainer should position the patient’s joint in the range of motion in which the joint will be stabilized.
Unless the maximum level of support is required, avoid applying the tape directly to the skin. Applying pre-wrap first, and then using zinc oxide tape over the pre wrap will help to prevent blisters.
Be careful not to apply the tape too tightly as the patient’s blood flow may be restricted. If the patient reports any unusual sensation or loss of feeling, the tape should be removed immediately.
DISCLAIMER: * Please note that, although Dunbar Medical distributes many premier brands in Sports Medicine and Home Health Care, we do not provide medical advice. As a result, we caution all users of this site not to regard its contents as medical, legal or other professional advice. Please do not attempt to use the information on this site to understand or treat any health or fitness problem or disease you may be experiencing. Instead, please seek the advice and assistance of a healthcare professional in order to understand the treatments or therapies that are appropriate for your particular condition.