PDA

View Full Version : Adhesive plaster



hanktrent
04-26-2007, 10:29 PM
What's the best modern equivalent of adhesive plaster? The period recipes contain litharge, which I'm not even sure is still available for purchase today. Is there a modern product that's close to the period, or a formula to make it with that's similar to the period but safe and practical to use as a first-aid measure on real minor injuries? To match the period formula, if possible, it looks like it should need to be warmed before being applied.

Then there's also court plaster, which apparently was less adhesive and needed to be wetted before being applied. Any experience reproducing that?

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

rkrispies
05-03-2007, 01:22 PM
Hank-

I'm not 100% sure on this, but it's worth a try. Original adhesive plaster was made by saponifying (making soap) from lard, olive oil, and lead oxide (litharge). You might be able to substitute zinc oxide for the litharge. Zinc has a much lower toxicity threshold and should be a little easier to get your hands on. As for the procedure to use, your guess is probably as good as mine. The finished product? Again, no idea if it will work like the original. You should know that zinc oxide has some issues related to inhalation hazards when first making the plaster. Once saponified, however, you should be ok.

Court plaster might be the better way to go. Original court plaster seems to have been either silk or cotton on which a substance called isinglass is applied. Isinglass is a special form of collagen found in fish swim bladders. When heated, collagen forms gelatin. I'm going to try this either tonight or this weekend, but you might be able to take cotton fabric and saturate it with a gelatin solution (unflavored for new bandages, cherry for that slightly use look?). Dry the bandages and then roll. Don't know if it will work. I will report back once I try.

Chris Spiese
Asst. Surgeon, 1st PA Rifles

rkrispies
05-09-2007, 09:14 AM
I tried this out the other night. The court plaster seems to work ok. I just took some muslin and dredged it through a cold water/gelatin mixture. Then dried it. After a 5 s soak in warm water, it adhered to skin pretty well and when dried, was fairly stiff. Not the same sort of cast as we might expect today, but was probably ok if applied over a wooden splint. It took a while to dry, however.

hanktrent
05-16-2007, 07:14 PM
Is it supposed to be stiff, like a modern plaster cast? I thought it would be flexible, more like modern first-aid tape or the sticky parts of a bandaid. Hmm... Maybe it's time to back up.

The function I'm looking for is something to bandage injuries in areas that aren't easily handled by a roller bandage, such as--specifically this past week--an open sore on the side of the foot behind the big toe, that needed protection from rubbing while continuing to walk.

In modern life, I'd put a strip of medical adhesive tape over it, with a small piece of cloth or something directly over the injury to protect it from the adhesive. What would be the period solution, if not adhesive plaster? Could a roller bandage be secured there without working out of place, or without adding too much bulk to fit in the shoe, or having the pins jab the foot? Any ideas what would be done in the period?

For what it's worth, here's why I thought adhesive plaster would be a flexible:

I figured that the use of the word "plaster" is because it was related to the various medicated "plasters" of the period which were more like what we'd think of as a very thick ointment, not like plaster for casts.

Speaking of plasters in general, the 1851 US Dispensatory says "Plasters should be firm at ordinary temperatures, should spread easily when heated, and, after being spread [on cloth or leather], should remain soft, pliable, and adhesive, without melting, at the heat of the human body."

Most contained what we'd call an "active ingredient" for raising a blister, killing pain, etc., but adhesive plaster's function seemed to be primarily mechanical, for things like holding together wounds too small or inconvenient for suturing.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

NoahBriggs
05-17-2007, 05:36 AM
I think I mentioned this on another discussion list, but perhaps collodion would be what you seek. It was otherwise known as Maynard's Adhesive plaster, was in the Army Pharmacopeia, and was used to seal small cuts together, or painted over the tops of cuts to prevent scunge from getting into the cut. It is easily simulated using liquid adhesive from Office Deopt.

hanktrent
05-17-2007, 06:33 AM
I think I mentioned this on another discussion list, but perhaps collodion would be what you seek.

That may be the answer. Can you tell me more about it? I'm wondering how it stands up to friction and/or stays put. Do you paint it on and then bandage over it, or does it have a cloth backing that it holds on by itself?

I had problem with even highly adhesive modern medical tape staying put (which is what I used until I can get this researched out more), and finally had to get more and wrap it all the way around the ball of my foot in a loop stuck to itself before it would stay.

Ironically, the sore spot is so healed up in just two days that I don't even have a bandaid on it now, but it got rubbed raw before I noticed it during the event and I needed something more protective than products like vaseline/bodyglide/bag balm to isolate it from continuing friction.

Never had foot problems before during an event, but I doubt I'm the only who's faced this issue!

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

NoahBriggs
05-17-2007, 07:14 AM
From the discussion list, message #6654:

"Actually, you might also try collodion, AKA Maynard's Adhesive
Liquid. According to Bruce Evans' book on non-surgical practices, it
was used on dressings as an adhesive, and also to cover ulcers and
small cuts to prevent them from becoming excessively contaminated.

"I did not find any references to it in Beasley's Book of 2900
Prescriptions. Maybe it was listed under something else.

"For my repro I used liquid glue from some large glue sticks from
Office Depot. I believe Johnson & Johnson makes a descendant
called "liquid Band-Aid", which is essentially the same thing."

Not quite the definition of "Plaster" as you cite, or as it was used in the 19th Century sense, but it seems to be the best answer for now.

hanktrent
05-17-2007, 07:54 AM
According to Bruce Evans' book on non-surgical practices, it
was used on dressings as an adhesive, and also to cover ulcers and
small cuts to prevent them from becoming excessively contaminated...

"For my repro I used liquid glue from some large glue sticks from
Office Depot. I believe Johnson & Johnson makes a descendant
called "liquid Band-Aid", which is essentially the same thing."

Okay, I know I'm being really dumb here, but since collodion sounds like it might indeed be the answer, I want to make sure I'm understanding. I'm not sure which of three following ways it (or a reproduction of it) would be used in practice...

1) Do you put the collodion and/or reproduction of it, directly on the wound with no other covering? If so, does it really stand up to heavy friction like all-day walking?

2) Or do you put the collodion on a cloth bandage which then is adhesive enough to stick by itself to the skin, like adhesive plaster? If so, that sounds perfect--the collodion to hold the bandage, the bandage to protect the collodion and wound from friction.

3) Or do you put the collodion on the wound and then fasten a cloth bandage over it in the usual period manner with pins or tying? If so, how would you bandage a tight awkward spot like the side of the foot inside a shoe, without the pins or knot causing more problems?

Sorry for being so dense, but I can't picture which of the three ways is how it works, and couldn't find additional period instructions in a quick search after your list message.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

NoahBriggs
05-17-2007, 08:37 AM
1) Do you put the collodion and/or reproduction of it, directly on the wound with no other covering? If so, does it really stand up to heavy friction like all-day walking?

Yes, but I do not know if it'll hold up on a long hike. I have never tried it.

2) Or do you put the collodion on a cloth bandage which then is adhesive enough to stick by itself to the skin, like adhesive plaster? If so, that sounds perfect--the collodion to hold the bandage, the bandage to protect the collodion and wound from friction.

That seems to be the answer I was getting out of reading how it's used. I thought it might be applied around the edges of a cloth pad, and held in place that way. Or, the whole cloth pad was slathered in collodion and stuck in place, and hopefully the adhesive kept it there. This is in your shoe, though, and on your foot. Hence the only downside would be the possibility of sweating it loose.

3) Or do you put the collodion on the wound and then fasten a cloth bandage over it in the usual period manner with pins or tying? If so, how would you bandage a tight awkward spot like the side of the foot inside a shoe, without the pins or knot causing more problems?

Good question. The only answer I could "see" is that the end is left loose, or collodion is used to hold it in place, rather than pins or tying, thus avoiding additional problems of knots or pins.

Regardless of which method works, this sounds like a dressing that requires frequent changing. At night I'd leave the bandage off altogether to let the wound air out and dry. That is a modern suggestion, BTW.

Sorry for being so dense.

You ain't dense. You want to know. And now I think we have all learned something new that's not covered in the usual "how to amputate with one gallon or less fake blood".

hanktrent
05-17-2007, 11:40 AM
Thank you! Sounds like it's time for some experimentation with the adhesivitivity of various substances and formulas. :)

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

rkrispies
05-19-2007, 02:08 PM
Hank-

Didn't mean to convey that it was 100% firm like a modern cast. The gelatin-type "court plaster" has some rigidity and some flexibility. Without an authentic example of these plasters, pretty much speculation on my part as to what they would look like originally.

TimKindred
05-25-2007, 10:58 AM
Hank,

Adhesive plasters are one area where I am also a might flummoxed. For my own purposes, I have two solutions.

First, I made up some purely for display. Since they will not be used, all I needed was a heavy cardboard tube, wrapper, and a label. I simply took some plaster cloth from the pharmacy and used it rolled up inside for weight.

Now, for actual field use, I took the same type of tube, made a proper wrapped and label, the rolled up some moleskin and placed it inside. That way, I have it if I really need it. I know it will stay in place and protect the wound/blister/raw area. Same thing with Iodine. I carry real iodine, just in case. I'm not at all trying to play doctor here. Just want it on hand in case of an actual small injury, to use in case real medical help is too far removed, or in case I need to protect it until I can get to the real deal.

Respects,