Tape strips in dermatology research

Br J Dermatol. 2021 Jul;185(1):26-35. doi: 10.1111/bjd.19760. Epub 2021 Mar 1.


Tape strips have been used widely in dermatology research as a minimally invasive method to sample the epidermis, avoiding the need for skin biopsies. Most research has focused on epidermal pathology, such as atopic eczema, but there is increasing research into the use of tape strips in other dermatoses, such as skin cancer, and the microbiome. This review summarizes the technique of tape stripping, and discusses which dermatoses have been studied by tape stripping and alternative minimally invasive sampling methods. We review the number of tape strips needed from each patient and the components of the epidermis that can be obtained by tape stripping. With a focus on protein and RNA extraction, we address the techniques used to process tape strips. There is no optimal protocol to extract protein, as this depends on the abundance of the protein studied, its level of expression in the epidermis and its solubility. Many variables can alter the amount of protein obtained from tape strips, which must be standardized to ensure consistency between samples. No study has compared different RNA extraction techniques, but our own experience is that RNA yield is optimized by using 20 tape strips and the use of a cell scraper.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dermatitis, Atopic*
  • Dermatology*
  • Epidermal Cells
  • Epidermis
  • Humans
  • Skin