Anytime something unpleasant needs to be done, someone will ultimately say, “Okay…better just go ahead & rip off the Band-Aid”, as the traditional belief is that it’s better to just do the unpleasant thing quickly to get it over with. It could be anything that could bring about some sort of physical or emotional pain. But is quickly ripping off an actual bandage really the best method?
Well, in reality…yes (at least, according to one study)!
Research published in The Medical Journal of Australia saw 65 James Cook University students in Queensland recruited to examine which approach would be the least painful: removing a bandage quickly or slowly. They used one of two methods, then assessed their discomfort levels on an 11-point pain scale (0 for no pain at all, 11 for the greatest amount of pain). Those who ripped the bandage off quickly reported an average 0.92 pain score. Those who peeled slowly over a 2-second time frame gave that process an average score of 1.58. So, their conclusion: it actually IS better to just rip off the bandage.
Researchers tried the bandages on 3 different sites: the hand, the shoulder, and the ankle, while also assessing each site for body hair. Turned out that the body part didn’t matter, but those with less body hair tended to report less discomfort, as did people who brought with them a preconceived notion that the slow removal process would be more painful than just ripping the bandage off quickly.
There were some variables that the study couldn’t account for, like skin tenderness as the result of a wound or the varying adhesive strengths of different bandage types (though, for the record the study used Band-Aid brand). Ideally, the best bandage would be one with a glue that sticks to skin but offers less resistance upon removal, and some researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston announced last year that they were making progress toward making that happen. But for now, it’s better to just rip off the bandage.
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