Steri-Strips or Sutures?

Some wounds are clearly large and deep requiring sutures – but others aren’t so easy to judge.

Here we look at when to use Steri-Strips and when to use sutures.


Steri-Strips are best suited to wounds that are:

  • No more than 3/4″ long
  • No more than 1/4″ deep
  • Not revealing exposed muscle or fat

Where the wound exceeds the limits mentioned above, or fat or muscle is clearly visible, then sutures are most appropriate. Another good indicator to use sutures is if you can see fat (yellow material) in the wound, or muscle (deep red tissue).

When else are sutures required?

As well as wounds that extend into underlying fat or muscle layers, if the area is dirty it will need to be cleaned thoroughly before stitching. This is particularly the case if there is a foreign object such as glass present. This must be removed completely prior to cleaning.

Sutures are also most appropriate if the wound is:

  • Gaping open or has jagged edges that don’t fit together cleanly
  • Located over a joint so that it repeatedly opens up again. This may be a knee or knuckle joint for example
  • On the face, eyelids, lips, or other areas of the body where keeping scaring to a minimum is important
  • The result of an animal or human bite (where this is the case the patient should be monitored for any infection and antibiotics may also be required)
  • On or around the genital area
  • Bleeding profusely or continues to bleed even after pressure has been applied

Are you a healthcare practitioner who regular deals with wound care and treatment?

Why not take a look at our Minor injury essentials Online: Accredited by the RCN Centre for Professional Accreditation. Here PDUK brings the classroom to you. Based on our extremely popular Minor Injury Essentials face to face workshop, this programme covers many of the same skills but allows you to learn them in a virtual classroom. 

The course focuses on the needs of practitioners whose clinical remit include assessing and managing basic injuries. Upon completing the course, participants will be more confident in dealing with these presentations and have a solid foundation to build upon.

Aimed at junior doctors, nurse practitioners, practice nurses, school nurses and other allied health professionals, it’s worth 21 hours of CPD over 3 days.

Then there’s the Minor injury essentials Face to Face: Accredited by the RCN Centre for Professional Accreditation course.

This is the face-to-face version of the online course we’ve just mentioned. Aimed at nurses, junior doctors and other allied health professionals, the course runs over 3 days and is worth 21 hours of CPD. It’s highly interactive and focuses on the needs of community practitioners who are now expected to include basic injury review and care. It will enable you to tackle injuries with confidence and skill.

Finally, why not take a look at our Acute wound management for urgent & primary care practitioners course too. Offered face-to-face, the course also looks at treatment for infection and is perfectly suited to junior doctors, nurse practitioners, ENPs, practice nurses, school nurses, allied health professionals and paramedics.

Held over one day, this course is worth 7 hours of CPD. Again, course material and a certificate are provided.

As with all our courses spaces are limited so it’s well worth booking up early!