Science Scope

Coming soon: a bandage that changes color with your wound

Posting in Technology

This "mood ring" of bandages will change colors to indicate the status of your wound.

Bandages have been a staple of medical care for so long, it's about time they got an upgrade.

A researcher in Australia is creating a bandage that changes colors to tell you the status of the wound underneath.

Like a mood ring, the bandage changes color in response to temperature changes in the body. Unlike a mood ring, the bandage will change colors to reveal physical changes, not psychological ones.

For instance, a localized increase in temperature can indicate that the wound is infected or inflamed while a drop in temperature might suggest that the blood supply has been interrupted.

Creator Louise van der Werff, a materials scientist and Ph.D. student at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, hasn't yet developed the bandage -- only the chameleon-like fiber.

Discovery news reported:

Her "smart bandage" uses a commercial derivative of cholesterol that changes from red through green to blue as it heats up.

She and her team expect to develop the bandage, in which the fiber will be woven into a wound dressing fabric, within six months. Their next step is to create a prototype in which the fabric changes color within a certain temperature range.

They expect the final product will allow patients and medical professionals to determine the temperature of the wound by comparing the bandage with a calibrated color chart. It will be sensitive to temperature changes of half a degree Celsius.

Currently, wounds are not typically monitored by their temperature because such observation requires infrared equipment and temperature probes, which are expensive and not widely available.

The bandage could enable chronic wound sufferers or wounded outpatients who do not receive constant care to keep tabs on their injuries themselves.

Photo: Louise van der Werff / CSIRO

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Laura Shin

Features Editor

Laura Shin has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times, and is currently a contributor at Forbes. Previously, she worked at Newsweek, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and LearnVest. She holds degrees from Stanford University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure