The BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandage is one hundred years old.
It was invented in 1921 by an unknown Johnson & Johnson employee, Earle Dickson, whose wife was accident-prone, or at least unfamiliar with her new kitchen.
Up to then it was not infrequent to die of infection from wounds and cuts even within the walls of a hospital, especially after surgery. A partial remedy was the use of gauze soaked in carbolic acid, which however irritated the skin.
Dickson, who worked as a cotton buyer at the Johnson & Johnson company, had this domestic problem: his wife Josephine kept getting small cuts and burns on her hands while doing housework and cooking. He found that gauze placed on her wounds with adhesive tape did not stay on her fingers always in motion. In addition, Mrs Dickson found it difficult to dress a burn or a cut when she was alone.
Thus he had a brilliant intuition: he tried sticking small bits of sterile gauze directly on the centre of pre-cut strips of surgical tape, covered with crinoline to keep it in sterile conditions. He then rerolled the tape so that his wife could unwind and scissor off what she needed, and easily continue her household chores.
He brought this innovation to his boss, James Wood Johnson, who liked the idea, and put it into production.
Band-Aid was officially launched in stores on 18 May 1921. The new adhesive bandage, which in the beginning was handmade, was used for small injuries that did not require a full-size bandage. The marketing to families that helped to make the new product known started when the company incorporated Band-Aids into their Boy Scout first aid kits.
It quickly met the favour of people, becoming an indispensable object in any medicine cabinet or first aid kit.
In Italy it took the name of 🩹“cerotto”🩹, from Latin cērōtum (“wax plaster”). Beeswax has always been known for its healing properties: in ancient Rome, doctors used a cream containing beeswax, olive oil, and rose water for the treatment of burns, wounds, cuts, bruises, as well as fractures.