This article was co-authored by
. Danielle Jacks, MD is a Surgical Resident at Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana. She received her MD from Oregon Health and Science University in 2016.
There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
Steri strips are adhesive strips that are used to keep small or shallow wounds closed so they can heal. Before you apply Steri strips to your wound, you’ll have to make sure the skin around it is clean and dry, as covering a dirty wound increases your risk of infection. Similarly, a wound from a dirty source, like farm equipment, needs to be left uncovered to heal from the inside out. When you’re applying the strips, make sure they are parallel to one another and that you hold the wound closed. After you’ve applied the strips, keep the wound area dry. If the strips are hard to remove, you can soak them in warm water to make them come off easier.
Preparing the Skin Around the Wound
You should remove any blood or dirt with rubbing alcohol or a cleanser like Phisoderm. Put the cleanser on a clean cotton ball and swab it across the area around the wound.
If your skin has any moisture in it, the adhesive might not work properly. Pat the area dry with a dry, clean towel or cloth.
A Benzoin tincture can help increase the adhesion between your skin and the Steri strip. Apply some tincture to a cotton swab and swab the area around the wound.
It’s important that your wound be completely clean before you cover it with steri strips. Otherwise, you may develop an infection under the steri strips that can continue to worsen. See your doctor if your wound is deep or hard to clean so that it will heal correctly.
Placing the Strips
You should pull each strip up off the card by placing your index finger under the end and pulling up. You can pull them off one at a time or three at once by using your index, middle, and ring fingers under the edges of three strips.
Place the index finger of your hand that’s not holding the Steri strips on one side of the wound. Then place the thumb of the same hand on the other side of the wound and press together.
Applying the first strip at the middle of wound ensures that the wound closes evenly. Then you can apply the rest of the strips out from the original one in the middle. It doesn’t matter if you move to the right or left (or top or bottom) first.
While holding the wound closed, place one end of the strip above the wound. Press down as you lay the strip over the wound and secure the other end under the wound. There should be an even amount of strip above and below the wound.
How many strips you need will depend on the size of the wound. There should be an 1/8th of an inch (1/3rd of a cm) between each strip and they should all be applied the same way. Apply enough strips so that the wound is closed all the way across.
The strips that are placed parallel to the wound will prevent the ends of the original strips from lifting. This ensures that your wound has time to heal before the strips start come up. Place the strips ½ inch (1 cm) from original strip ends.
Caring for the Strips
Most head wounds heal more quickly than other areas of the body. Check the strips every day to make sure the ends aren’t coming up. If they are, apply another strip parallel to the wound to keep the ends down.
Wounds over joints are the most likely to heal slowly because the movement of joints continually open the wound. Leave the strips on for 10 to 14 days.
If your wound is not on your head or over a joint, you should leave the strips on for 5 to 10 days. As your wound heals, it will turn a light pink color. Check for that color before you remove the strips.
- If you notice that your skin is red or painful, it may be infected. Remove the steri strips to check for an infection. If you think your wound is infected, visit your doctor to make sure you get proper treatment so your wound can heal.
If you get the strips wet at all, they can come off. Keep the wound dry for the period the strips should stay on. You can shower as long as you can keep the wound out of the water.
- If you can’t keep the wound out of the water, you’ll need to take sponge baths until the wound heals.
By the end of the period your strips should be on, they’ll probably be easy to gently peel off. If they resist coming over, dip a cloth in warm water and hold it over the strips for 5 to 10 minutes. Once you remove the cloth, the strips should pull off. If they don’t, moisten them again.
Steri strips were applied after the staples were removed from my knee replacement surgical wound, and the doctor said I could take a shower but not a tub bath. Is this correct?
Danielle Jacks, MD is a Surgical Resident at Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana. She received her MD from Oregon Health and Science University in 2016.
It’s okay to take a shower while you have steri strips because getting them wet won’t damage them. However, they may start to peel at the edges after they get wet. While showering is okay, don’t soak in a bath or hot tub until your doctor says it’s okay.
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- Don’t apply Steri strips to deep wounds or wounds that have dirt in them that you can’t remove. For those types of wounds, see a doctor.
- Don’t yank off Steri strips. The adhesive in them is strong and they can tear your skin.
To apply steri strips, start by taking the strips off the card and holding the skin on either side of the wound closed. Apply the first strip at the middle of the wound to ensure that it closes evenly. Then, apply the rest of the strips out from the original one in the middle, making sure they’re all parallel with about ⅛ of an inch between each strip. For head wounds, keep the strips in place for 3-5 days. Alternatively, for cuts over joints, don’t take the strips off for 10-14 days. For all other cuts, leave the strips in place for 5-10 days. To learn how to remove the steri strips, keep reading!
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This article was co-authored by Danielle Jacks, MD. Danielle Jacks, MD is a Surgical Resident at Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana. She received her MD from Oregon Health and Science University in 2016.
Categories: Recovery from Surgery
In other languages:
Português: Aplicar Steri Strips, Español: aplicar las tiras de sutura Steri Strips, Русский: использовать стерильные полоски, Deutsch: Steri Strips aufkleben, Italiano: Applicare le Steri Strip, Français: appliquer des bandes de suture adhésives
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