New-Skin® Liquid Bandage: Are Liquid Bandages the Way to Cover Wounds?
New-Skin Liquid Bandage® is an alternative to the conventional bandage that can be found at the majority of drugstores. It is a liquid formulation bandage that is brushed onto minor wounds such as cuts or sores to protect them from infection. The liquid is left to dry in order to form a seal which is waterproof, antibacterial, and flexible – similar to that of a typical Band-Aid®. Generally, the majority of people still use bandages to cover wounds due to familiarity reasons; however, using a liquid bandage such as New-Skin® may in fact benefit wound healing.
How does it work?
The “Liquid Bandage” is a mixture of chemicals (most importantly benzethonium chloride, nitrocellulose and castor oil) that remains in liquid form until brushed onto the wound and left to dry, forming a seal to block out dirt and bacteria. In addition, this protective layer will also reduce pain by blocking nerve endings in the wound. The main active ingredient, benzethonium chloride, plays the largest protective role against and has not shown to be highly absorbed into the skin. Rather this liquid contains proteins that work with surrounding skin cells for tissue repair. Not only is this liquid cosmetic and protective, it will also leave a soft, powdery feel on the skin after its application1.
What does the evidence say?
Studies on pigs have shown that wounds which are covered, speed up the rate of recovery by 30% when compared to leaving a wound open to air 2. This is because of the moist environment and the lower risk of infection when a wound is covered up2. There are currently no studies directly comparing the effectiveness of liquid bandages to other regular wound dressings (such as Band-Aids®). Individually, the ingredients in New-Skin® has been shown to be useful for wound healing. Benzethonium chloride is a powerful antiseptic which reduces the chance of infection3. One study in particular found that benzethonium chloride was the most effective at killing methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (a “superbug” which is very hard to treat) in wounds on the skin4. However, this study was funded by a manufacturer of benzethonium chloride and should be taken with a grain of salt. Nitrocellulose, another ingredient is useful for closing wounds to promote healing of the skin. For example, it has can be even used to seal surgical incisions (the ultimate dressing) along with antibiotic ointment (in this case, benzethonium chloride). The use of castor oil for topical use was found to help with various skin conditions and infections like keratosis (growths on skin) and wound healing2.
A 142 person study looking at how often someone could get an allergic reaction from benzethonium chloride and benzalkonium chloride found that it is possible (but rare). The results showed approximately 1 in 142 patients getting “definite” allergic skin reaction5. It should be noted that the concentration of benzethonium chloride is 0.2% in New-Skin Liquid Bandage®. It has been found that concentrations of benzethonium to produce mild skin irritation at 5% but not at lower concentrations. Benzethonium chloride is found to be safe at concentrations of 0.5% when applied to the skin and safe up to a concentration of 0.02% when used in the eye area6. Therefore, while safe to use on the skin, New-skin® may be unsafe in the eye areas.
What alternatives are there?
A popular alternative to the Liquid Bandage is the conventional adhesive bandage (the kind that sticks on to your skin). Adhesive bandages come in different forms and can have added antibacterial or moisturizers depending on the product. The main complaint with the adhesive bandage is that it has more of a physical presence and isn’t as flexible as the liquid bandage. However, the adhesive bandage is cheaper and works just as well.
When do I use New-Skin® Liquid Bandage?
Liquid bandage can be used for minor cuts and wounds that require the wound to close and bleeding to stop or to prevent infection7. It should not be used for large areas or areas involving the eyes or the mouth, and for period longer than a week if there is no improvement. Liquid bandage should not be applied to areas that are draining or infected, and should not be used with other topical products at the same time. You should see a qualified health care professional if your injury involves deep puncture wounds, serious burns, animal bites, infection (yellow pus, pain and redness around site), if the bleeding doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of directly applying pressure, fever, or severe pain3.
Based on the evidence collected, the use of New-Skin Liquid Bandage® on wounds will help protect the wound from possible infection. As compared to the conventional bandage, New-Skin® may be a better choice for a wound dressing as it provides a complete seal over the wound and also contains an antiseptic to help prevent microbial growth, but there has been no study directly comparing New-Skin® to conventional bandages. Overall, New-Skin® is a little pricier but could be good alternative to conventional bandages and is a safe choice for dressing small wounds.
Andrew Hoang, Kevin Huie, Cyrus Lau, Kody Lee, Ibrahim Mourad, Tiffany Tang, Hugo Tse
Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of Alberta
Edited and Reviewed by the Health Aisle Team
- Paulson D. Handbook of Topical Antimicrobials: Industrial Applications in Consumer Products and Pharmaceuticals. CRC Press: 2002.
- Yari A, Yeganeh H, Bakhshi H, Gharibi R. 2014. Preparation and characterization of novel antibacterial castor oil-based polyurethane membranes for wound dressing application. J Biomed Mater Res Part A [Internet]. 2014 Jan. [cited 2014 April 11]; 102 (1): 85-96. Available from Wiley Online Library: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca/doi/10.1002/jbm.a.34672/pdf
- DailyMed [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US). DERMAL WOUND CLEANSER (benzethonium chloride) spray [Smith & Nephew, Inc.]; [revised 2009 Dec]; cited 2014 April 10]. Available from: http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/lookup.cfm?setid=b48863b9-1afb-4edf-a67d-ccb21d29cce8
- Deadly Staph Infections Prompt Research on Best Treatment for Cuts, Scrapes. Oregon State University [Internet]. 2007 Mar 12 [cited 2014 Apr 10]. Available from: http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2007/dec/deadly-staph-infections-prompt-research-best-treatment-cuts-scrapes
- Dao. H,J., Fricker. C, Nedorost. S.T., Sensitization Prevalence for Benzalkonium Chloride and Benzethonium Chloride, American Dermatitis Society. 2014. Vol 23.(4): pp 162
- Liebert, M. A., Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Benzethonium Chloride and Methylbenzethonium Chloride, International Journal of Toxicology. 2005. Vol 4(5): pp 65-66
- MedlinePlus [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); [updated 2014 April 11]. Lacerations – Liquid Bandage; [updated 2012 May 13; cited 2014 April 10]. Available from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000497.html