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What are Steri-Strips™?

Mona D. Rigdon
Mona D. Rigdon

Steri-strips™ are thin adhesive strips used to close small incisions or wounds. They are made of non-woven, porous elastic backing coated with a hypoallergenic adhesive that responds to pressure. These strips are used to pull and hold the edges of a wound together to allow healing time. They are often used in place of sutures and have distinct advantages and disadvantages in certain situations. Available at most drug stores, Steri-strips™ are marketed by manufacturer 3M™, but similar strips are available from other manufacturers under different brand names.

After reports that medical professionals who relied on a surgical tape to rebuild a patient's abdominal wall successfully saved his life when sutures failed, the manufacturer was inspired to create smaller, easier to use strips. Many moms rely on them to treat small cuts, and they are commonly found today in home first aid kits. Hospitals make regular use of them for surgical wound care.

Steri-strips™ are used to hold the edges of an  incision together to allow healing time.
Steri-strips™ are used to hold the edges of an incision together to allow healing time.

Also known as butterfly strips, these surgical dressings are ideal for contoured areas, areas with delicate skin, or areas that are unlikely to maintain sutures. Using Steri-strips™ does not cause the patient any pain, so they make dealing with childhood wounds much easier for everyone involved. The use of these strips as wound dressing reduces the possibility of infection or other complications. They usually peel and curl and fall off on their own after a week to 10 days. This reduces scarring and the stress and inconvenience involved with suture removal.

Steri-strips™ are made of surgical tape.
Steri-strips™ are made of surgical tape.

The strips are easy to use. First, the wound is cleaned, along with the surrounding skin. Next, the strips are removed from the backing, and one end is placed next to and perpendicular to the wound. The wound is gently pulled together, with care to use appropriate tension. Then, the remaining end of the strip is carefully put on the opposite side of the wound, and light pressure is applied. Normally, the wound is then covered with gauze or other appropriate dressing.

Steri-Strips may be found in some first aid kits, and can be used to treat minor cuts.
Steri-Strips may be found in some first aid kits, and can be used to treat minor cuts.

The disadvantages of this method of wound closure bear consideration as well. The strips will not properly close wounds on an area of skin with a significant amount of hair present, because the adhesive will not stick. Areas that excrete moisture, such as the palms or underarms, are not suited for the bandages. If the strips get wet, there is a higher risk of infection or of the strips falling off too soon. This method is for shallow wounds, so if bleeding continues after wound closure, a healthcare professional might need to suture the wound.

If bleeding continues after a wound has been closed with Steri-Strips, sutures may be necessary.
If bleeding continues after a wound has been closed with Steri-Strips, sutures may be necessary.

Studies have shown that this method of wound closure is particularly successful when used on children with facial lacerations. Many pediatricians and moms prefer to use these strips instead of sutures, because they cause less pain and anxiety. This method also reduces the visibility of scarring compared to staples and sutures, and the strips are easily and quickly applied.

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    • Steri-strips™ are used to hold the edges of an  incision together to allow healing time.
      By: Carolina K Smith MD
      Steri-strips™ are used to hold the edges of an incision together to allow healing time.
    • Steri-strips™ are made of surgical tape.
      By: Shariff Che'Lah
      Steri-strips™ are made of surgical tape.
    • Steri-Strips may be found in some first aid kits, and can be used to treat minor cuts.
      By: Warren Goldswain
      Steri-Strips may be found in some first aid kits, and can be used to treat minor cuts.
    • If bleeding continues after a wound has been closed with Steri-Strips, sutures may be necessary.
      By: Sherry Yates
      If bleeding continues after a wound has been closed with Steri-Strips, sutures may be necessary.
    • Skin wounds may be closed sing Steri-strips.
      By: wellphoto
      Skin wounds may be closed sing Steri-strips.