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Steri Strips — Everything You Need To Know About Them

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When it comes to prepping and survival, it is important to have some basic medical knowledge. This is indispensable, especially if you or any family members pick up an injury. While the injury may only seem small and insignificant, it may become deeper than you initially thought. 

This is why it is a great idea to become well acquainted with Steri-Strips. They should be a go-to item for all preppers and survivalists, as they are something you will potentially need to use. 

In this article, we will be chatting you through everything you need to know about Steri-Strips, from whether they are waterproof, to the best ways in which they can be removed. We hope you will find this article useful and insightful. 

What Are Steri-Strips?

Steri-Strips are a particularly useful item to have in your first aid bag, especially in a survival situation. They are used with helping wounds and cuts that are not too deep to heal correctly.

Steri-Strips can also help to prevent the appearance of scarring caused by the wounds and help to decrease the risks of infection. 

They are not too expensive to purchase and are typically used in US hospitals for minor cuts and wounds. The adhesive strip on them holds the wound together to allow it to heal as quickly and as naturally as possible. 

Steri-Strips are low profile, and it is often used with things such as stitches and sutures to ensure that the wound does not split open at all.

They are useful to have as they allow the skin to breathe while also leaving only a small amount of residue when they are taken off. 

Basic Guide To Using Steri-Strips

steri strips

There is a specific way in which you should use Steri-Strips, especially if you want them to be as successful as possible. It is important to follow these steps as closely as you are able to.

To begin with, you will need to remove any dirt, debris, or foreign objects from the cut or wound before you are going to apply the Steri-Strips to. This will allow the wound to heal properly and will help to prevent infection.

Next, you will want to sterilize the wound and the skin surrounding it. Again, this is to help kill any lingering bacteria and will prevent infection from occurring. This can be done with antiseptic wound wipes, or a saline solution if this isn’t available.

Thirdly, you will then want to dry the area and the wound as much as possible. This will help it to heal, and will allow the Steri-Strips to stick to the skin. Once the skin is dry, you can then place one side of the Steri-Strip to the skin next to the wound.

The wound will then need to be pulled closed. 

This should be done carefully to ensure that the skin is in the correct position. After this, you can place the remaining side of the Steri-Strip to the skin on the opposite side of the wound.

Gently press down on the skin to ensure that the Steri-Strip is nice and secure.

Keep repeating this process until the wound is completely closed and secured. You can use as many or as few Steri-Strips as you need. After you have done this, you will want to bandage the area to keep it safe and protected from dirt and debris. 

The bandage and Steri-Strips should remain clean and dry. After around a week to ten days, the Steri-Strips will naturally peel away from the skin. Even so, there is a specific way you should remove them, which we will discuss later on in this article. 

In the vast majority of instances, the skin will then be healed. If not, you can apply a fresh set of Steri-Strips to improve the healing process.

Which Should I Use — Sutures Or Steri-Strips?

Whether you use Sutures or Steri-Strips will all depend on the type of wound present. If the wound is only surface level and not too deep, Steri-Strips can be used on their own. 

However, if the wound is deeper and requires stitches of some sort, then sutures would be the best option. Even so, both can be used together, and sometimes this is the best option to consider.

When To Use Sutures

Sutures should be used if the wound is a lot deeper than surface level. For example, wounds deeper than a quarter of an inch, and wounds longer than three quarters of an inch should be sutured. 

This is particularly important if the wound has penetrated any layers of fat or muscle. In addition to this, wounds that are near joints that are moving a lot take longer to heal, such as knees, finger joints, and elbows.

Given this, sutures would be the more sensible option to consider, as they hold the skin in place more securely. 

If the wound is particularly large or is uneven, this will need help in the healing process, and often Steri-Strips are not strong enough for this.

To keep scarring to a minimum, sutures are the best option to use, especially when it comes to cuts where you would not want scarring, such as the face. 

If a wound is bleeding a significant amount, it requires deeper stitching, and you will need to use sutures to be sure that the wound can heal correctly.

If the wound is at risk of infection, especially if it is an animal bite, sutures are the best option to consider. 

When To Use Steri-Strips

As discussed, Steri-Strips are the best option to use for surface cuts, rather than wounds that require more attention and are a lot deeper.

If the wound is smaller than three-quarters of an inch, and less than a quarter of an inch deep, Steri-Strips can be used with no issues.

In addition to this, there should be no muscle or fat that can be seen in the wound. This is how you know that Steri-Strips are the best option. If the wound is bleeding profusely, suturing is the better alternative.

Can Steri-Strips Be Used To Replace Stitches?

This really does depend on the size of the wound. In certain instances, Steri-Strips can be used to replace stitches or sutures if there is no real need for them. They are the easier option to use, and cause the least amount of pain when used. 

In addition to this, if you are in a survival situation, and they are your only option available, they are better than using no type of stitching at all.

Even so, if the wound is too large, and you can use other types of stitches, this is always recommended, rather than relying solely on Steri-Strips. 

Should I Cover Steri-Strips?

Yes, where possible, you will want to cover the Steri-Strips with a bandage. This will help to keep them clear of infection and will give the wound the best chance of healing.

If this is not possible, keep them as dry and clean as possible.

How Long Can Steri-Strips Remain In The Skin For?

steri strips

Steri-Strips typically remain on the skin for up to 10 days. After this time, the adhesive will begin to fade, and they will peel off the skin. This is typically enough time for the wound to have healed itself. 

How To Safely Remove Steri-Strips?

In the majority of cases, Steri-Strips will peel off on their own. However, you may need to do this yourself. Here are the steps you should take:

First, ensure your hands are clean and dry. Next, you will want to slowly begin to peel the Steri-Strip away from the skin. Choose one end to do this with. As you are doing this, you will need to ensure that the skin is pulled to make the removal easier. 

Keep pulling the strip in a horizontal movement so that it peels off easily and doesn’t hurt. Peel it until you reach the area of the wound, and then stop. Repeat the process with the other side of the Steri-Strip. 

Take care when removing it from the area where the wound was present, and just lift the Steri-Strip gently until it is removed. You don’t want to pull it off as this can affect the scab and the healing process. 

If the Steri-Strip doesn’t remove easily, you can leave it on the wound for another day or so, until it is ready to be removed. 

Can You Get Steri-Strips Wet?

Ideally, Steri-Strips should not get wet as they aren’t waterproof. This will affect how adhesive they are, which will then affect the healing process.

You want to avoid water in the area for at least two days to ensure that everything is healing correctly. 

Is It Safe To Swim With Steri-Strips?

As the Steri-Strips shouldn’t be placed in water for long periods, you should avoid swimming or bathing if they become soaked in the water. 


We hope you found this article useful. As you can see, Steri-Strips are a must in a survival situation.

It is important to know how to use them, and we would also recommend familiarizing yourself with suturing too, as this may be needed if the wound is too deep for Steri-Strips to be successful.