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How to Avoid Irritation From Sports Tape

by Jeff Reynolds

Sports tape is supposed to help, not hurt, but irritation is a common complaint after using the tape. The irritation can occur due to a number of reasons, so you need to look closely, both figuratively and literally, at what exactly is causing your skin to become so irritated. Once you figure that out, you can adjust your tape use or change the type of tape you use.

Use the Right Amount of Tape

One of the biggest sources of irritation from sports tape is excessive stretching that then pulls on the skin. If you're trying to conserve tape by using less of it and stretching it to reach the length you really need, stop that; all that will happen is the tape will contract and pull skin along with it. Your skin isn't going to stretch as far as the tape wants it to, and so you'll have the tape pulling one way on your skin and your skin pulling the other way, resulting in irritation.

Look for Bamboo-Fibre Tape

If you have very sensitive skin, look for bamboo-fibre tape. These eco-friendly and nontoxic tapes are much gentler on the skin. The adhesives on these types of tape are also gentle even though they do a good job of keeping the tape in place. The fibres used for the "cloth" part of the tape tend to irritate the skin less than plastic layers. These fibres are also eco-friendly and can be recycled or composted, allowing the user to reduce the trash they generate.

Move to Test the Tape and Redo If Necessary

Once the tape is on, try moving around. You want to see how the tape feels and if it's going to feel like it's pulling too much. You really shouldn't feel much pulling at all; the tape might feel a little tight if you're moving a lot, but it shouldn't feel like it's pulling your skin back. Redo the tape if you feel that pulling sensation.

Shave Hairs Where Tape Will Go

Sometimes the irritation isn't from the tape itself but from the hairs being pulled by the tape. Shave the areas where the tape will go. Even if the hair is very light, the tape can pull the hairs enough to irritate the skin around the edges of it. Minor irritation can quickly grow as you unconsciously move the edges of the tape around to try to end the itching that you feel.

Nontoxic sports tape is a great help to those with sensitive skin and to those who simply want to use products that are better for them and for the environment. Look for nontoxic sports tapes that are zero-waste for an eco-friendly effect.