Reducing the risk of Medical Adhesive-Related Skin Injury (MARSI).

What is MARSI?

  • Image of a baby’s hand holding an elderly person’s hand with MARSI logo lock-up.

    Skin tears, skin stripping and tension blisters are common but avoidable examples of Medical Adhesive-Related Skin Injury (MARSI). MARSI is damage to the skin that may occur when medical adhesives are not selected, applied and/or removed properly. When you better understand MARSI, you're better equipped to protect your patients.

Recognizing the different types of MARSI.

  • Dramatic image of a red wound where there are separated skin layers
    Skin Tear

    Wound caused by shear, friction and/or blunt force resulting in separation of skin layers. Can be partial- or full-thickness.10

    Dec 1, 1901
  • Dramatic image of an arm with bumps and lesions around the IV site
    Skin Stripping

    Removal of one or more layers of the stratum corneum following adhesive removal. Lesions are frequently shallow and irregular in shape. Skin may appear shiny.2,3,4

    Dec 1, 1901
  • Dramatic image of a red, blister like bumps on the surface of the skin
    Tension Injury or Blister

    Separation of the epidermis from the dermis caused by shear force as a result of distension of skin under an unyielding tape or dressing.3,5,6

    Dec 1, 1901
  • Dramatic image of a heel with a layer of skin missing, with the rest of skin appearing wrinkled and gray and white in color

    Changes in the skin resulting from moisture being trapped against the skin for a prolonged period. Skin appears wrinkled and white/gray in color.

    Dec 1, 1901
  • Dramatic image of elevated and irritated skin surrounding the hair follicle

    Inflammatory reaction in the hair follicle caused by shaving or entrapment of bacteria. Appears as small, inflamed elevations of skin surrounding the hair follicle.7,8,9

    Dec 1, 1901
  • Dramatic image of red, raw and irritated skin
    Allergic Contact Dermatitis

    Cell-mediated immunologic response to a component of tape adhesive or backing. Typically appears as an area of erythematous, vesicular, pruritic dermatitis.7,8,9

    Dec 1, 1901
  • Dramatic image of a swollen foot with red, and irritated skin
    Irritant Contact Dermatitis

    Non-allergic contact dermatitis that results from a chemical irritant. May appear reddened and swollen, and vesicles may be present. Typically of shorter duration.7,8

    Dec 1, 1901

Who's at risk for MARSI?

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  • Blue long-term care facility icon

3 steps to reduce the risk of MARSI

  • Image of a blue gloved hand pulling a piece of medical tape off the role, with the MARSI 3 step process on the right hand side
    Click red dots for more information
    Click red dots for more information


Assess the skin for signs of damage at regular intervals, noting color, texture, uniformity of appearance, and integrity. Be sure to also note contextual factors and underlying health conditions before selecting and using any adhesive products.


When selecting an adhesive product, consider the assessment criteria in addition to the intended use of the product, anticipated wear time, anatomical location and ambient conditions present at the site.1


Proper application and removal of adhesive products is key to minimizing skin damage and reducing the risk of MARSI.1 Medical tape should be applied without stretching or tension and should be removed “low and slow” to avoid pulling at the epidermis.

Learn about adhesives and skin protection

  • Sign up to download the MARSI consensus document, authored by 23 global leaders on skin health. The report explores:

    • What MARSI is
    • Why it occurs
    • Who's most at risk
    • Why MARSI is relevant to your practice
    • How you can reduce the risk
  • The medical adhesives you select, as well as how you apply and remove them can have a serious impact, not only on clinical outcomes, but also patient experience. This document looks at nearly 600 nurse's perspectives about medical tape usage and how the tape you use can make or break trust between you and your patient.

  • This new report examines some of the most serious threats facing skin and provides insights into these essential care objectives:

    • Maintain skin integrity
    • Safe securement to skin
    • Repair injured skin
    • Help prevent infection

Upcoming events

What would happen if we thought about skin differently? How can skin be your secret superpower in care? Explore these questions and more during our new multi-part webinar series on the science of skin management.

  • Register for upcoming webinars
    Browse upcoming 3M webinars

    Through the 3M℠ Health Care Academy, you can register for free monthly webinars covering a wide-array of topics relevant to your clinical practice. Register for upcoming webinars, and access archives from recently conducted events.

  • Skin illustration
    Learn More About the State of Skin

    View past webinars from the seriers that explore the science of skin in more depth, including topics such as safe securement to skin, maintaining skin integrity, repairing injured skin and helping prevent infection.

    State of Skin – Elevating the Science of Skin Management

    Skin is a window to who we are as people. As the largest organ in the body, skin is critical to the maintenance of our bodies and health. When it’s damaged, skin can negatively impact our psychological and physical health. Hear as Patrick Parks, MD, PhD, and Matthew Cooper, MD, explore elevating the importance of skin when delivering care.

    Safe Securement to Skin: Thinking Differently About Medical Tape and it's Impact on Patient Outcomes

    Throughout care settings, there is a perception that “tape is tape” – that there isn’t much to it. If it sticks and does its job, there really isn’t a need for more understanding, right? Actually, there is much more to medical tape than you may think. Denise Ziemann RN, BSN, and Kimberly Schommer RN, BSN, VA-BC, breakdown how a novel approach to thinking about medical tape can help reduce complications, provide insight into factors that influence appropriate tape selection and translate to improved patient, clinical and financial outcomes.

    Real Talk About Pressure Injuries: Why Are We Still Struggling With Prevention?

    Even with structured programs, early intervention and better reporting, some facilities still struggle with pressure injury (PI) prevention - but why? Jessica Pehrson, RN, MSN, CWS, answers that question by outlining common areas where PI diagnosis, treatment and prevention often come up short despite the latest global efforts to determine root causes and expanding clinical recommendations for assessment and management. She also shares practical tips - from education and training to product selection - that may help reduce the risk of PI in your facility.

Proven products for every patient application.

Selecting the right product for the right patient and application is an important part of MARSI risk reduction. At 3M, we have a wide variety of products designed for a variety of conditions and patient skin types, plus product selection information that makes it easy to make the right choice.

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Transforming Outcomes

Explore how science and innovation are transforming the healthcare industry.


Challenging common medical adhesives myths

Watch as we address and fact-check commonly held beliefs (and misbeliefs) about medical adhesives.

Other Resources



  • 1. McNichol L, Lund C, Rosen T, Gray M. Medical adhesives and patient safety: state of the science. Consensus statements for the assessment, prevention and treatment of adhesive-related skin injuries. J WOCN. 2013;40(4):365-380.
    2. Smith MA, Pressure-sensitive tape and techniques for its removal from paper. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation. 1984;23(2):101-113.
    3. Farris MK, et. al. Medical adhesive-related skin injury prevalence. Journal of Wound Ostomy and Continence Nursing. 2015;42(6):589-598.
    4. Resnick B. Wound care for the elderly. Geriatr. Nurs. (Lond.). 1993;14:26-29.
    5. Gerhardt LC, et. al. Skin-textile friction and skin elasticity. Skin research and technology: official journal of International Society for Bioengineering and the Skin. 2009;15(3):288-298.
    6. Shannon ML, Lehman CA. Protecting the skin of the elderly patient in the intensive care unit. Crit. Care Nurs. Clin. North Am. 1996;8(1):17-28.
    7. McNichol L, Lund C, Rosen T, Gray M. Medical adhesives and patient safety: state of the science. Consensus statements for the assessment, prevention and treatment of adhesive-related skin injuries. J WOCN. 2013;40(4):365-380.
    8. Lund C. Medical Adhesives in the NICU. Newborn Infant. Nurs. Rev. 2014;14(4):160-165.
    9. Holbrook KA. A histological comparison of infant and adult skin. In: Maibach HI, Boisits EK, eds. Neonatal skin: structure and function. 1982.
    10. Lund CH, Tucker JA. Adhesion and newborn skin In: Hoath SB, Maibach HI eds. Neonatal skin: Structure and Function. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker:2003:200-324.