You’re traveling, perhaps in a foreign country. You get cut/laceration/gash. What do you do? Do you need stitches? Or do you have what you need to close that gash?
If you get cut while you’re traveling, will your first aid kit cut it?
While traveling in populated areas, it’s likely you’ll be able to find medical treatment when you need it, but you might not always want to rush off to a doctor or hospital. I don’t offer you medical advice, but thought you might like to know about these First-Aid options to potentially pack into your travel bag.
Twenty years ago I somehow cut my hand. It looked like might need stitches to close the gash but it wasn’t gushing blood. I wasn’t traveling at the time, but medical treatment in Los Angeles is costly, both in time and dollars, so washed it, I covered it with a regular bandage (aka plaster) and showed it to a neighborhood doctor friend for her opinion. I could take care of this myself, she said.
She told me to go to our local pharmacy and get Steri-Strips, explaining how to close the gash. The Steri-Strip use seemed quite logical. The pharmacist knew exactly what I wanted and he had them in stock — which is why the good doctor knew to send me to him rather than to a large “Drug Store” shop. My hand healed perfectly.
I learned of a great Emergency Kit item and have had 3M Steri-Strips ever since. I’ve only needed them one other time so far, but they’re in my backpack each time I leave home.
Your options for cuts
You don’t necessarily need stitches, which are fairly invasive and leave a scar as well.
Here are your options in 2019.
The last option is new. Do yourself a favor and follow the links I’ve placed with it so you can read for yourself.
First, of course, you’ll need to clean your wound and stop any bleeding. Gauze pads or absorbent compress dressings, alcohol or antiseptic wipes, and antibiotic cream are important items for your first aid kit so you can clean your wound. (I also carry Hydrogen Peroxide cream. Liquid Hydrogen requires more care to carry.) Then you’ll want one of these depending on the size of your laceration.
- Butterfly bandage ( Wikipedia). This is a common bandage but with a different shape and perhaps waterproof. It’s for very small wounds that you can pull closed yourself. You pull the skin closed and adhere.
- Wound Closure Strips, aka Skin Closure Strips (Wikipedia). You pull the wound closed and adhere a set of strips across the wound.
- ZipStitch — a new item that sort of pulls your wound closed for you.
And then there are stitches, most likely done by a doctor.
Adhesive Skin Closures
Both are by 3M, a company that specializes in adhesives. These strips do a good job of staying on your skin for days. I think you keep them on until they fall off. Of course, you want your wound to heal. Please check for yourself as I am not a doctor. I only hope to lead you to your travel first aid packing options here. In terms of space in your travel bag, these are next to nothing and won’t impact your packing.
3M™ Steri-Strip™ Reinforced Adhesive Skin Closures R1546 — I think these are the professional product. This is the one I have used.
- You can get them ⅛” to 1″ wide and 1½” to 5″ long. I carry ¼” wide by 4″ length (6mm x 100mm).
- 10 strips per envelope.
- These are sort of white, or clear with visible white lines in them.
- Website says:
- “Condition – Wound Care”
- “Skin Closure Condition Type – Skin Laceration Surgical Incision – Cosmetic Results, Surgical Incision – Large Incision, Surgical Incision – Small Incision”
Nexcare™ Steri-Strip™ Skin Closure — I think these are the home product.
- They come in two sizes: ½” x 4”, ¼” x 4”
- 18 or 30 per package.
- These are clear.
- The website says good for:
- “Securing, closing and supporting small cuts and wounds; wound support following suture or staple removal”
- “Cuts / Scrapes / Abrasions, Post-Surgical Incisions.”
Here’s a paper published by 3M about how they cut down on infection.
Healthline has a medically reviewed article that may help you as well: How to Care for Steri-Strips: A Step-by-Step Guide
A friend who is more of an outdoorsman sports person told me he also keeps a product called Mastisol, which is a liquid adhesive and he uses it to keep the strips in place. I never tried it because I had the long strips and they stayed on well, but the shorter ones don’t have that opportunity.
ZipStitch — a more powerful way to close a cut or laceration
Per its website, ZipStitch ” is the only surgical-quality wound closure device available without a prescription.” The description continues, “Treat cuts with hospital-grade technology when you can’t get to an ER for stitches.”
ZipStitch says on its when to use page that it is for small to medium cuts, up to 1¼” wounds, with a gap under ⅛” (4mm).
As I write this, the product comes as a kit, the ZipStitch™ Laceration Kit.
This video explains how ZipStitch works.
There is also this page on their site, which shows you how to apply a ZipStitch with an actual wound.
I haven’t seen one in person yet and haven’t tried this, but it certainly looks good. Especially if you spend time in the wilderness.
I encourage you to visit the ZipStitch website.
While we’re talking about first aid, here’s a link to the Red Cross suggestions for a first aid kit.