A plea for making brown bandages stick

Pediatr Dermatol. 2021 Nov;38 Suppl 2:152-154. doi: 10.1111/pde.14414. Epub 2020 Oct 17.

Abstract

The act of healing is a uniquely humanizing experience ubiquitously symbolized by the application of a bandage, an action that occurs daily in dermatology and pediatric clinics. The beige bandages we use in clinics are merely a visible symbol and reinforcement of what is considered standard and what is a deviation from the norm. One hundred years ago, Johnson & Johnson was a pioneer in the field when they invented the adhesive bandage. One hundred years ago, they set an industry standard by creating, exporting, and upholding a normative standard for practically all adhesive bandages in medicine, including birth control and nicotine patches to nasal strips. It took one hundred years after its inception and with over 100 billion Band-Aids produced with cartoons and superheroes, and in countless forms, for the inventors of bandages to offer a multitude of skin tones. Can we as healers stick with them? Or, can we implore ourselves to decolonize our clinics with a seemingly insignificant yet powerful symbolic gesture that lets our patients know that they are seen and not deviations from the norm? The conversation of diversity and inclusion in health and healing and institutional racism is obviously much deeper and profound than adhesive bandages. However, we can choose to acknowledge and celebrate diversity and inclusion in our practices as much as we can because it is significant to all of our patients, children, and adults alike.

Keywords: adhesive bandages; diversity; inclusion; race.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bandages*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Wound Healing