Permanent Marker

Essential for Medical Marking

A permanent marker is an essential tool in any first aid kit, providing a simple but effective way to mark important medical information directly on the skin or on medical equipment. This can be crucial in emergency situations where quick and clear communication is needed. Permanent markers are versatile and easy to use, making them invaluable for various medical applications.

Marking Swelling and Discoloration

One of the primary uses of a permanent marker in first aid is to mark the boundaries of swelling and discoloration. This is especially important for conditions like snake envenomations or cellulitis:

  • Snake Envenomations: After a snake bite, swelling and discoloration can spread rapidly. Using a marker to outline the edge of the swelling helps track its progression. By noting the time when the boundary was marked, medical professionals can monitor how quickly the symptoms are spreading, which can be critical for deciding on the appropriate treatment.

  • Cellulitis: Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that causes redness, swelling, and pain. Marking the edges of the affected area with a marker helps track the infection’s spread. This information can be useful for medical professionals to determine the effectiveness of the treatment and whether the infection is getting worse or improving.

Tourniquet Application

The use of a permanent marker for marking the time of tourniquet application has evolved over time. Here’s how it is currently viewed:

  • Old Method: It used to be common practice to write the time of tourniquet application directly on the patient’s skin or on the tourniquet itself. This was done to ensure that medical personnel knew how long the tourniquet had been in place, as prolonged application can cause tissue damage.

  • Current Understanding: With a better understanding of tourniquet use, the timing of removal is now based more on clinical judgment rather than strict time limits. However, a permanent marker can still be useful for indicating that a tourniquet was applied. Writing “TQ” on the patient’s forehead or another visible area can alert medical professionals that a tourniquet is in place, ensuring it is addressed promptly upon arrival at a medical facility.

Additional Uses

Permanent markers can also be used for other purposes in first aid and medical care:

  • Labeling Medical Equipment: Marking medical equipment, such as syringes, dressings, or medications, helps prevent confusion and ensures proper usage.
  • Patient Information: In emergency situations, writing important patient information (such as allergies or medications) on their skin can be helpful if they are unable to communicate.
  • Instructions and Notes: Medical personnel can use permanent markers to leave instructions or notes directly on bandages or medical tape, providing clear communication for ongoing care.


  • Visibility: Permanent markers provide clear, visible markings that are easy to read, even in chaotic or stressful situations.
  • Durability: The markings made by permanent markers are resistant to water and smudging, ensuring that important information remains legible.
  • Versatility: Permanent markers can be used on a variety of surfaces, including skin, plastic, and metal, making them a versatile tool in first aid kits.


  • Skin Irritation: Some people may experience mild skin irritation from the ink in permanent markers. It’s important to use them carefully and avoid sensitive areas.
  • Permanent Marks: The ink is designed to be long-lasting, which means it can be difficult to remove from the skin. This can be a drawback if frequent updates or changes to the markings are needed.

A permanent marker is a simple yet powerful tool that enhances the functionality of any first aid kit. Whether marking the progression of swelling, indicating the application of a tourniquet, or labeling medical equipment, a permanent marker helps ensure clear communication and effective treatment in emergency situations.