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Color-Changing Band-Aid Tells You Exactly When to Take It Off

German scientists invent a bandage that turns purple when the wound beneath gets infected.

The worst thing about bandages is taking them off: It hurts like hell, and half the time you just have to put the damn thing back on because the owie underneath hasn’t finished healing yet. Repeatedly removing and reapplying bandages also gives germs extra opportunities to get in and cause infection. A transparent Band-Aid would offer a clear view of the healing process, but it would also be kind of gross.

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Scientists at the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Modular Solid State Technologies EMFT have a better idea: color-coded dyes that turn the bandage purple when an infection is present. Hard to miss that!

The dye reacts to changing pH values in the wound below without disturbing it. If everything’s hunky-dory in there, the pH will stay below 5. But if it rises between 6.5 and 8.5, an infection is likely — and the dye turns an icky shade of purple. Which means you’d better peel the bandage off and disinfect, stat.

According to EMFT, the researchers are currently looking for a partner to produce the bandages commercially.

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About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets

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