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.
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.
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.
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.
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.