KytoStat Bandages: Battlefield Technology for the Kitchen

“If you cut yourself, you are going too fast or you are not focused” Sara Moulton, Executive Chef Gourmet magazine, author of Sara’s Secrets for Weeknight Meals

I don’t cut myself often. But I am in commercial kitchens regularly, I have kids (one of whom the ER docs know by name), and I spend a lot of time with knives. Accidents happen. A first aid kit and fire extinguisher should be part of every kitchen. When the inevitable does happen, I am a big fan of 3M’s Nexcare line of bandages, especially their Active and Waterproof bandages. The waterproof bandages are the only ones I’ve found capable of surviving the wet, active environment of the kitchen. Every other brand just shreds or falls off after a hand-washing or two. The Nexcare waterproof bandages stay with you and keep your cut clean and dry. That’s a good thing at home. It’s critical in a restaurant kitchen. The last thing you need is your bandage coming off when you’re elbow deep in a stock pot. KytoStat bandages from HemCon

I’ve got to say, though, that I’ve found a new addition to my kit, the KytoStat bandages from HemCon. Originally developed to stop hemorrhaging and severe bleeding on the battlefield, their blood-stopping technology migrated first to hospital emergency departments but is now available to retail consumers. The bandages are made from chitosan, a natural derivative of shrimp shells. When it comes into contact with blood the bandage becomes extremely sticky, forming an adhesive, antibacterial seal over the wound. The positively charged chitosan attracts negatively charged red blood cells, causing coagulation and clotting. Bleeding stops fast. These bandages are especially useful for people on dialysis, undergoing chemotherapy, using blood thinners, taking anti-coagulants or anyone whose natural clotting ability is diminished or non-existent. For the rest of us, they are a way to rapidly and effectively stop the bleeding and seal the cut. The downside for kitchen use is that the KytoSan bandages have to be kept dry. That means a finger cot or glove. Even with that caveat, the science behind these things is amazing.

KytoStat bandages are not cheap. A four pack from is $29USD, but if you need them, it’s worth it. Luckily I have not had the chance to “field test” my KytoStat bandages yet. I keep one in my kitchen first aid kit and one in my knife roll for travel. I’ll let you know if I get the chance to use one.

* Full Disclaimer: My wife was Senior Executive Vice Poobah In Charge of Stuff at a company that provides marketing and public relations services to HemCon, though they were not her client. I received my samples through her.
* UPDATE: HemCon has apparently renamed these HemCon Strip First Aid Pro. Yes, they are still ridiculously expensive. Yes, they are still amazing.

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  1. Very interesting stuff there, If a wound if bad enough to need it I can see this product being worth the money.

    Funny the first thing that popped in my head when I saw it was derived from shrimp shells… allergies.. What has been covered on that side. I don’t know what the properties in shrimp that cause reactions so this may be a non issue.

    Great write up Chad, keep it up 🙂

  2. Thanks, DC. Good catch on the shellfish allergies. It is addressed on the KytoStat website, but is buried in the FAQ:

    “Is there a problem using HemCon products on people with shrimp or shellfish allergies?

    There have been no known allergic reactions as a result of using the HemCon Bandage since distribution began in 2003 and there have been no adverse effects reported in over 1,000,000 bandages shipped.

    HemCon Medical Technologies, Inc. has results from a shellfish allergy study conducted by its chitosan supplier which demonstrates that, out of 221 individuals with suspected hypersensitivity, including 8 individuals with known shellfish allergies, none demonstrated any dermal sensitivity when pricked with a chitosan test solution. However, since chitosan is extracted from the shells of shrimp and other shellfish, individuals with known shellfish allergies should exercise caution in the use of products containing chitosan.”

  3. Looks like a great product. I am always looking for innovating things to put in my first aid kit. THis would be great for wilderness and commercial kitchen first aid kits. My father-in law who runs a butcher shop with lots of knoves can be my test subject.

  4. Your recommendation was spot-on, Chad. After reading your review of this product linked at KF I bought a couple boxes. Only recently I had to use one. I hit a vein on the top of my left arm near the wrist (the “intern’s vein) with a knife, resulting in a nasty would that pumped blood at a good clip. When direct pressure wouldn’t stanch the flow of blood I decided to give the Kyto-Stat a try. After applying it and pressing firmly for ten or fifteen seconds, I got one single drop of blood trickling out, then the flow stopped like turning off a faucet.

    These things are amazing.

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