How to make your TENS unit electrode pads sticky again
Keeping TENS electrode pads sticky for longer
Since you are reading this article, you probably already know what TENS is and how it works. On the other hand, you might feel that your new friends, the electrodes, are starting to fail you and you just want to know how to keep them at your side for longer. No worries, we will provide some information here, in order to help you continue with non-invasive and drug free TENS therapy.
Normal electrode life span
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation devices, or TENS units, as most people like to call them, are usually able to function for a long time. Some even claim that these little machines work for years. Of course, they have rechargeable or replaceable batteries, but leaving those out of the discussion, the devices are pretty strong.
The story is different when it comes to electrodes. Depending on their quality and the way they’re taken care of, they can probably be used between 20 and 30 times. Each individual uses them more or less often, so the life span can be estimated to last from one to three months.
The simplest thing to do when you feel like they won’t stick to your skin anymore is to just buy new ones. They can be easily found in various shops or online and they will be cheaper if bought in larger packs, like those containing twenty pieces. You could purchase the more expensive and higher quality pads that last longer or simply try different methods of preventing fast decay for the ones you already have.
Preventing electrode decay
First thing you need to take care of is the hygiene of your skin. In other words, make sure the area that you are about to use TENS on is clean before you apply the electrodes. The best way is to wash yourself with good old soap and water and then make sure you dry off completely with a towel prior to starting the procedure. In this way, any natural skin oil and sweat are removed, so as to not make the electrodes greasy and reduce their functionality. Another alternative is to use TENS wipes, which were developed with the precise purpose of being used to prepare the skin for pads application.
When not using them, it is recommended for the electrodes to stay in their original packing, which was specifically designed to keep them from decaying. What we also need to stress here is the importance of letting the electric pads have a rest, this being healthy for them as well as your skin. In case you have spare electrodes, you can just rotate them, use some while the others dry out. The ideal break that these sticky objects need is 24 hours and it is advisable that you keep them in a cool environment. If you are lucky enough to have a frost-free refrigerator, you can pop them in there as well.
Every time after using them, make sure to clean the electrodes. The best way to do this is by wiping them gently with a damp cloth. Do not even think of using napkins or paper towels, as these can get stuck to the pads and make the situation even worse.
Furthermore, a small thing, like the way you remove them from your body, can make a big difference. We advise you not to rip them off your skin by pulling the wire, but gently remove them by lifting the edges, of course, not earlier than turning off the device itself. Lastly, even though a drop of water won’t bring harm, do not submerge them in it. Oversaturation of any kind, be it water or sweat, will hurt the quality of your electrodes.
How to make electrode pads sticky again?
In addition to prevention, we can also talk about what can be done to fix any potential damage. If you try using the electrodes and they don’t seem willing to stick, you can wipe them again with a damp cloth. Not necessarily because they were not cleaned properly in the first place, though this is a valid option, but because sometimes a tiny amount of water could moisten the material and make it stickier. You could even use your finger to add a couple of drops to the pads, but remember, don’t throw them in liquid altogether.
Sometimes, electrode hygiene is the biggest problem. In case wiping them didn’t work, a more thorough scrubbing might do the job. For that, you will need a clean toothbrush. Make sure to brush only in one direction, this is said to expose more of the sticky surface and increase their efficiency in remaining on your skin.
Another option is to purchase some special gels or sprays to aid your mission. Conductive gels, as well as improving the stickiness of your electrodes, are said to also give better results in the proper transmission of the electrical signals to muscles and nerves, thus making you feel the effect of TENS therapy even more. These and electrolyte sprays are mostly ways of hydrating the electric pads and making them last for a longer amount of time.
Wrapping up – basic guidelines in making or keeping electrodes sticky for longer
Clean your skin, it’s the first measure of bringing success on the table by putting less effort in damage repair further along the way. Secondly, wipe the electrodes with a damp cloth after every single use to keep them in proper condition. Give them rest and don’t be aggressive, but be gentle when handling and removing them from your skin.
When they are already getting old, help them do a better job with a tiny drop of water to hydrate them or with an efficient toothbrush scrub. Using conductive gels and electrolyte sprays might also help resuscitate them. If you tried everything, but they remain unresponsive, as sad as it may feel, look for the best bargain and get yourself a nice new set of high-quality electrodes.