Issue: November 2012
November 01, 2012
2 min read

Tincture of benzoin improves efficacy of medical tape

Issue: November 2012
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Tincture of benzoin solution is a topical adhesive agent used to provide tackiness and enhance the adhesive property of tape. It is particularly useful for facial areas that are difficult to dress with tape such as the angle of the mouth or around the eyes.

The resin compound found in tincture of benzoin is made with four ingredients: benzoin, aloe, storax and tolu balsam. Benzoin is the primary resin ingredient, making up 10% of the solution. It is a naturally occurring substance obtained from plants called vegetable gums or balsams. Specifically, benzoin is a balsamic oleoresin, which is a mixture of both resin and essential oils. The word “tincture” means a solution in alcohol. Tincture of benzoin results when the resin compounds are combined in approximately 79% alcohol, depending on the specific formulation.

In addition to providing adhesiveness for tape, formulations of tincture of benzoin can be used as a local skin antibiotic. In one study, the agent was effective in treating a variety of infections including multiple aerobic, anaerobic and spore-forming bacteria such as Candida albicans and Mycobacterium fortuitum (Cincu Marsalic et al.). Tincture of benzoin could also be used preoperatively as an antiseptic for wound preparation. However, it should be used with caution for this purpose, as it can attract dust particles and other impurities from the surrounding environment due to its tackiness.

In eye care, this product can be used to augment tape use around the ocular area. Several scenarios can benefit from long-lasting tape application such as pressure patching for corneal abrasions and eyelid taping for lagophthalmos, entropion, ectropion or Bell’s palsy.

Brittany Becker-Schauer

Brittany Becker-Schauer

Although rare, contact allergic dermatitis complications can result from tincture of benzoin use. In one study, 45 patients out of 477 had a positive allergic reaction to tincture of benzoin, where 14 were strong reactions (Scardamaglia et al.).

In another study with a small sample size, two patients reacted with redness, papules and vesicles to tincture of benzoin after 48 hours (Lakshmi and Srinivas).

Leonid Skorin Jr.

Leonid Skorin Jr.

A bottle of tincture of benzoin is quite inexpensive and can last a clinician for many years. Overall, the risk of bottle contamination is minimal, although care should be taken to decrease this small risk.

Tincture of benzoin is a safe, natural substance used to increase the effectiveness and duration of medical tape and should be used whenever medical taping is necessary.

  • Cincu Marsalic RN, Agarwal A, Dange N, et al. Tincture of benzoin as an antiseptic and adhesive for preoperative surgical preparation. Neurol India. 2007;55(1):88-89.
  • Lakshmi C, Srinivas CR. Contact dermatitis to compound tincture of benzoin applied under occlusion. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2006;72:62-63.
  • Sarifakioglu E, Sarifakioglu N. Dressing spray enhances the adhesive strength of surgical dressing tapes. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2006;72(5):353-356.
  • Scardamaglia L, Nixon R, Fewings J. Compound tincture of benzoin: a common contact allergen? Australas J Dermatol. 2003;44:180-184.
  • Wascher RA, Barcia PJ. Tincture of benzoin: clinical and microbiological implications of reusable containers. Milit Med. 1996;161(3):143-145.
For more information:
  • Brittany Becker-Schauer, OD, practices at Vision Source – Mandan, in Mandan, N.D. She is a recent graduate of Pacific University College of Optometry. She can be reached at 107 6th Ave., NW, Mandan, ND 58554; (701) 663-0313; (800) 244-1479; fax: (701) 663-1604;
  • Leonid Skorin Jr., OD, DO, MS, FAAO, FAOCO, practices at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea, Minn., and is a member of the Primary Care Optometry News Editorial Board. He lectures internationally and has more than 300 publications including numerous book chapters and a textbook. He also serves on staff of several universities. He can be reached at Mayo Clinic Health System, 404 West Fountain St., Albert Lea, MN 56007; (507) 373-8214; fax: (507) 377-4117;

Disclosures: Schauer and Skorin have no relevant financial interests to disclose.