Invention of Band-Aid

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

Invention of Band Aid

Saaransh : Mom waiting for today’s bedtime story

Mom : Yes. Today I will share one more enthralling story.

Saaransh : Oh! Great

Mom : Before that can you tell me, what you do when get hurt like a scratch or cut on your body while playing?

Saaransh : Mom, as you taught me, I first wash and pat dry it followed by band aid application.

Mom : Absolutely, this helps to prevent infection and reopening of wounds along with healing.

Today’s my story is about the invention of Band aid.

Saaransh : That’s amazing

Mom : Band aid was invented in 1920. The special reason of sharing it is this year marks the 100th anniversary of Band aid. This is a century old invention which still sells like a hot cake.

Invention of band aid is credited to Earle Dickson, an employee of Johnson & Johnson company.

Earle was a cotton buyer of Johnson & Johnson from New Jersey. He got married to Josephine in 1917. Josephine was clumsy cook in initial days. She would often get minor cuts or burns during housework and especially cooking. Applying a gauze or cloth around the wound with one hand was challenging for her. Also this hack would not withstand hand washing. So many times Earle would tie the gauze with surgical tape around her wounds. Josephine started complaining about the difficulty she was facing while covering wounds herself. She was most worried about the infection it may cause if not taken care. As antibiotics were not invented till that time so the infection was considered a serious health hazard.

Earle was compelled to find a solution to everyday problem. His company, Johnson & Johnson was the manufacturer of large cotton and gauze bandages for hospitals. Hence Earle had easy access to gauze, surgical tape. He was well acquainted with the efficacy and use of these products. He thought of a novel idea of layering gauze on the tape. This combo made sure the sterile application and prevented the water wash. He took long piece of surgical tape. Square shaped sterile gauzes were arranged on the tape maintaining few inches distance. Then whole tape was lined with crinoline fabric to keep it sterile and avoid unnecessary sticking of ends of tape after cutting for application. He considered making rolls of such surgical tape so that Josephine could use the bandage on her own. Crinoline fabric was meant to be peeled before application.

Now whenever Josephine got hurt, she would cut the required strip from the roll, peeled and apply it. Josephine was very happy with the new-fashioned bandage, specifically the ease of using it independently.

Earle Dickson too noticed its ease and efficacy. He shared his custom-made bandage with the boss who insisted on presenting it in front of management. Johnsons were not impressed with the concept at first. Earle demonstrated the band aid application to convince them. After demonstration, management could foresee the potential of Band aid, as economical, convenient and aseptic. Also, the product required two main ingredients as Surgical tape and gauze which are produced by them. Whoa!!! Finally, band aid manufacturing at industrial level had begun. Johnson & Johnson eventually made Earle Dickson a vice president of the company till his retirement.

Initially people did not find the product fascinating. There was no demand for it.

Saaransh : How do people deal with minor cuts, burns at that time.

Mom : People used to tie any easily available cloth, gauze or left open the cuts or burns to heal. They were not aware of infection in open wounds and septic. Gradually when awareness about germs, infection increased. People started realizing the importance of bandages. Earlier Band aid were handmade and came in rolls as shown by Earle. Around 1924 Machine made band aids were introduced. Then individual strips came in the market. These strips were packed in metal containers which were then replaced by cardboard.

This was such a novel product that people had to be taught how to use the band aid. Slowly band aid sale gained the momentum and reached to today’s highs. During world war II band aid was used profoundly.

Interesting fact is Band aid had travelled till moon.

Saaransh : What? Travelled till moon, how?

Mom : In Apollo Mission 11 astronauts carried Band aid as a part of their first aid kit. So I said it travelled till moon.

Now the Band aid the brand adhesive bandage has become an integral part of every household first aid kit since generations.

Take away from this story is Necessity is the mother of invention. Once again proved.

Now is the time to retire for the day! Good night!

Saaransh : Good night!

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