What are Steri Strips and How to Remove Them

steri strips

What are steri strips?

Steri strips are thin, adhesive bandages commonly used to close minor cuts, wounds, or incisions. They are made of a breathable material and are often used as an alternative to stitches or staples.

When are Steri-Strips used?

Here are some of the common situations where they are used:

1. Minor cuts and scrapes.

They can help to close the wound and keep it clean, reducing the risk of infection. They are especially useful for small, clean cuts that are not under a lot of tension.

2. Surgical incisions.

They can be used as a secondary closure after stitches or staples have been removed. This can help to support the wound and reduce the risk of scarring.

3. Lacerations.

They can help to close the wound and reduce the risk of scarring. They are especially useful for small lacerations that are not under a lot of tension.

4. To support other closure methods.

They can be used in conjunction with stitches or staples to provide additional support to the wound. This can be helpful for wounds that are under a lot of tension or at risk of reopening.

5. To prevent wound dehiscence.

They can help to reduce the tension on a wound, which can help to prevent it from reopening (dehiscing).

6. As a dressing for burns.

They can be used to secure a dressing on a burn, helping to protect the wound and promote healing.

How to use steri strips?

Steri-Strips are a convenient way to close minor wounds, but it’s crucial to use them correctly for optimal healing. Here are the step-by-step process to use them:

Before applying:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to prevent infection. Dry them completely.
  2. Clean the wound gently using a mild soap and water solution. Dry it with a clean cloth.
  3. Make sure the surrounding skin is dry and free of any dirt or debris.

Applying the Steri-Strips:

  1. Choose the appropriate size. The strip should be slightly larger than the wound to ensure proper coverage.
  2. Peel off the backing paper carefully, avoiding touching the adhesive part with your fingers.
  3. Gently hold the edges of the wound together.
  4. Apply one-half of the strip to one side of the wound, pressing down gently.
  5. Pull the other half of the strip over the wound and smooth it down firmly.
  6. Repeat steps 4-5 until the wound is completely covered.
  7. Apply additional strips as needed, ensuring there’s no overlap between them.
  8. For longer or deeper wounds, use strips perpendicular to the wound edges for better support.

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How long do steri strips stay on?

They typically stay on for 5 to 14 days, depending on several factors:

  • Location of the wound: Strips on the trunk or extremities tend to last longer (10-14 days) compared to those on the face or neck (5-7 days).
  • Type of wound: Deeper wounds or those under tension might require stitches and Steri-strips for added support, potentially leading to longer wear time.
  • Individual healing rate: Everyone heals at their own pace, so the duration can vary slightly from person to person.

Signs it’s time to remove them:

  1. They start to curl or peel at the edges.
  2. They’ve been on for the maximum recommended time for your location (e.g., 14 days for the trunk or extremities).

How to remove steri strips?

Removing Steri Strips requires some care to avoid damaging the wound or causing discomfort. Here are two methods:

Method 1: Waiting for natural fall off.

  1. This is the preferred method as it minimizes the risk of irritation or reopening the wound.
  2. Leave them on until they naturally fall off. This typically takes 5-10 days, depending on the type of wound and the adhesive strength.
  3. Do not pick at or pull on the strips as this can damage the skin and reopen the wound.

Method 2: Manual removal.

  1. Only use this method if your doctor instructs you to.
  2. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to prevent infection.
  3. Soak the area with warm water for 10-15 minutes. This will loosen the adhesive and make removal easier.
  4. Dry the area with a clean cloth.
  5. Lift one end of the strip slowly and gently.
  6. Peel the strip back slowly and horizontally across the skin, following the direction of the wound closure. Do not pull upwards.
  7. Repeat for each strip.
  8. If any residue remains, gently remove it with baby oil, lotion, or medical adhesive remover.

Can you shower with steri strips on?

Yes, you can shower with steri-strips in place, but only after 48 hours and with some precautions. Here’s what you need to know:

Do:

  1. Wait at least 48 hours after the steri-strips are applied before showering. This allows the adhesive to set properly and helps prevent infection.
  2. Keep the shower short and lukewarm. Avoid hot showers as they can soften the adhesive.
  3. Apply a water-resistant dressing over them if necessary. This helps minimize water exposure.
  4. Pat the area dry gently with a clean towel after showering. Do not rub.

Don’t:

  1. Shower before 48 hours.
  2. Take long or hot showers.
  3. Submerge the area with steri-strips in water.
  4. Rub the area with a towel.
  5. Use soap or shampoo directly on the steri-strips.

How to care for Steri-Strips?

Proper caring is essential for good wound healing and preventing complications. Here’s how you can do it:

1. Keeping them dry:

  1. Avoid getting them wet for at least 48 hours after application. This allows the adhesive to set and prevents infection.
  2. Cover the area with a waterproof dressing when showering or bathing.
  3. Pat dry gently with a towel after, avoiding rubbing.

2. Cleaning and inspection:

  1. Clean the wound gently with mild soap and water daily, not the Steri-Strips themselves. Pat dry with a clean cloth.
  2. Inspect the wound daily for redness, swelling, pus, or increasing pain (signs of infection).

3. General care:

  1. Don’t pick at the strips or wound; this can irritate the skin and increase infection risk.
  2. Wear loose-fitting clothing that doesn’t rub against the strips.
  3. Avoid activities that strain the wound or cause the strips to loosen.
  4. Trim loose edges carefully with clean scissors if they snag on clothing.
  5. Never reuse Steri Strips.

The Bottom Line

Steri Strips offers a convenient and non-invasive solution for closing minor wounds, but proper care is crucial for optimal healing. Remember, keep them dry for at least 48 hours, clean the wound gently daily, and avoid picking at the strips.

If you experience any signs of infection, see your doctor immediately. While natural detachment is preferred, soaking in warm water can aid removal. Follow your doctor’s specific instructions and prioritize wound care for a smooth healing journey.

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