It’s important for preppers to learn to deal with injuries that are more than your average scrape. You should be prepared to provide yourself or your loved ones medical care when doctors are at least a few hours away.
One product that I genuinely think will make this easier is ZipStitch, a plastic device that replaces stitches or butterfly closures in your first aid kit. This review will tell you why I recommend it, how and when to use it, as well as the disadvantages of the product.
What is ZipStitch?
This product is a small plastic clasp that closes wounds. It’s made of two adhesive strips with several plastic chords that work like zip ties to hold the cut together. Unlike with stitches, there’s no pain involved.
The ZipStitch, and its larger surgical counterparts, have been used in hospitals for years and several studies have been conducted on it. In fact, what first drew me to the ZipStitch was watching a video where it was used on knee surgeries.
Obviously, because the knee has to move, the ZipStitch has to be strong and work well under tension. According to one study, the ZipStitch is eight times stronger than stitches. And after applying it to my knee, it is very firm and holds up well under movement.
What’s in the ZipStitch kit?
In a ZipStitch kit you’ll find:
- 1 Zip Stitch
- 1 Alcohol wipe
- 1 Gauze
- 1 Bandage
Each item is sterile, made without latex, and held in a little cardboard sleeve that was very easy to open. You won’t have a problem fumbling with it during an emergency. It can fit in the slimmest space.
How do you use the ZipStitch?
The instructions provided in the kit are straightforward.
After you get a cut, you stop the bleeding by applying pressure with the gauze pad. After the bleeding is under control, you clean the cut with the alcohol wipe. You have to allow it to dry. This is very important because the Zipstich will not stick well and might slip if you do not allow time for skin to dry.
When dry you pull the plastic off the ZipStitch and apply it by centering it on the cut and pressing down.
I found the adhesive was quite strong and latched on right away. Then you have to remove the paper tab around the ZipStitch (there’s a little tear on one side you start from).
Next, you pull each tab, and the ZipStitch pulls you cut together, sealing it up. The instructions mention you should take care not to over-tighten, which I can imagine would put undue stress on your skin.
When I tightened the ZipStitch on my knee, it was immediately obvious that it was super strong. I clicked just like a zip-tie would, and pulled my skin tight, though I didn’t have an injury I was sealing.
I readjusted it so that it wasn’t pulling my skin and it stuck back on seemingly just as well. Then, I clipped off the excess tabs with scissors.
Lastly, you can cover the cut with the bandage, making sure it won’t stick to the ZipStitch when you change it. But, the instructions didn’t say this step was necessary. After the cut is healed a bit, I imagine you’d want to keep it uncovered so the skin can breathe. But, I’m no doctor, so use your own judgment.
What does the ZipStitch offer preppers?
For small, non-jagged injuries, the ZipStitch is a convenient, pain-free, alternative to stitches and butterfly closures. It’s stronger and it’s faster to apply than both. It’s not without disadvantages, but let’s talk about the pros first.
Pain is important to preppers
Even when stitches or staples are applied by someone with skill, they still hurt. And if you might be giving care to children, or traumatized adults, minimizing their pain is important. Besides, most of us aren’t skilled with stitches and haven’t had many opportunities to try applying them. The ZipStitch requires no skill. And in a situation where skilled medical care isn’t available, that’s invaluable.
Movement and longevity
The adhesive on the ZipStitch is really strong. The instructions say that you shouldn’t adjust the strips, but I did. The side I adjusted stuck back on and it lasted just as long as the other side. Plus, I put the thing on my knee, and it stayed with me while I walked around, even on my daily walk with my dog through the woods.
The instructions suggest that you might get the ZipStitch caught in your clothing or something, but I think that’s fairly unlikely so long as you cut the excess straps closely unless you’re in really thick brush when hiking. Otherwise, the thing will easily stay on you for a full seven days, the maximum you can use it.
All of this means that if you’re bugging out and get a scrape, you can put the ZipStitch on and keep moving, without needing to think about it, except to ensure it’s not infected, for seven days. In a situation where you have to keep moving, that’s a huge advantage. For those that live an more outdoor lifestyle, Zipstitch offers an alternative to a hospital visit for minor to moderate lacerations.
The studies that have been done on this product are fascinating. They show that while stitches, staples, sutures, and other wound closure methods leave behind “railroad track” scars, the ZipStitch leaves behind a smaller, thinner scar that’s less likely to be vascular and discolored.
One doctor, Thomas Aleto, M.D., Columbia, MO, talked about the larger surgical version of the ZipStitch and explained that it reduces scarring because it applies consistent tension along the whole cut, while stitches have high points of tension, with less tension between each stitch.
There’s another way that ZipStitch could offer you better healing in a SHTF scenario. It’s quite quick to apply as compared to stitches, which means your cut is open for less time. One study I read hypothesizes that this quick closure time might explain why the surgical version of the ZipStitch achieved low infection rates among their study participants.
I’d say that during a SHTF event, when conditions might be dirty, that quick closure time could be very significant in preventing infection. Unless you have fish antibiotics stashed back, antibiotics are only available through a doctor and that requires a prescription. During hard times anything that prevents infection is a valuable part of your medical arsenal.
I did get a small cut, a little puncture, while I was reviewing this product. The injury wasn’t right for the ZipStitch, but I did test out the included alcohol swab, gauze, and bandage on this injury. The swab and gauze were typical, and I was quite impressed with the bandage which was large, with a soft almost gel-like backing.
It held well to my hip until I replaced it the next day. If I had a long enough cut to use the ZipStitch, I would have had everything I needed to handle it. Though, if you will need large bandages if you want to keep your injury covered for a few days.
It will also interest preppers to know that my ZipStitches all display a use by date that’s roughly three years from now. You can stock up a few of these and be reasonably sure you’ll use them before they expire. I imagine if you packaged them up better you may be able to extend the shelf life since it is probably the adhesive that is most prone to breaking down.
What are the drawbacks of the ZipStitch?
Only used for specific kinds of cuts
The ZipStitch is a very specific yet advanced tool, and if you try to use it for a kind of cut it isn’t intended for you could get infections, scarring, poorly healed skin, etc. You can only use the ZipStitch on straight cuts that don’t have jagged skin. The cut must be 4 centimeters in length or smaller, with a 4mm or smaller gap. It also can’t be too deep of a wound. If you see fatty tissue, it’s too deep and you should see a doctor or use another means such as sutures.
Sure, if your wound fits all of these criteria, the ZipStitch is great, but what are the chances of that? In particular, I really wish the ZipStitch could be used with longer cuts, seeing as doctors already have access to much larger versions. Maybe the longer versions will hit the market soon but this may not happen since medical professionals do not want people trying to treat wounds that are very large without seeking medical advice from a professional.
Only used on specific body parts
I was impressed that the ZipStitch holds up well on my knee, even under movement. But, the instructions make clear that you can’t use it on your hands, feet, face, or scalp. I’m not sure why.
Perhaps there’s just too much movement in these areas? It’s especially disappointing that you can’t use it on your face, seeing as that’s the location that would most benefit from the reduced scarring the ZipStitch provides.
Other use restrictions
There are a few other restrictions you have to keep in mind when you’re using the ZipStitch. You can’t submerge it in water or put it directly under the water from a shower, although you generally shouldn’t submerge cuts in water no matter how you’ve dressed them.
You also need to shave the area first, because it’ll pull your hair off when you remove it (just ask my poor boyfriend, call me an idiot, but I put it on his leg without thinking).
Plus, you need to have a bandage large enough to cover the whole thing, because you don’t want to pull the ZipStitch off when you change the bandage. For the same reason, you shouldn’t put medical tape over it.
As with all wound dressings, you’ll run into problems if your cut gets infected. If the wound swells, it could break the ZipStitch open, and you may not notice that immediately. Stitches can burst too of course, but if you’re using a ZipStitch when this happens, you’ll need a second ZipStitch, never mind medical attention and antibiotics.
If you have a cut that you can use the ZipStitch on, it’s clearly superior to stitches, butterfly closures, and whatever else you’re using. It’s stronger, offers better healing, and is much easier to apply. It’s a clear winner in SHTF scenarios and outside of them.
ZipStitch is a valuable addition to any medical kit. Preppers might consider adding several ZipStitches and small surgical kit as well. ZipStich is a quality product that has undergone years of testing in surgical and hospital settings. This is not something that is a gimmick product.
If I had cut over a tattoo or was undergoing surgery in any visible area, I would ask my doctors to use the ZipStitch, or it’s surgical version. As it stands, I have several in my various first aid kits. If you’ve tried the ZipStitch, let me know what you think of it below.
Author Bio: Ellysa Chenery can be found writing all over the web. She loves adapting traditional skills for new situations, whether in the wilderness, garden, or homestead. Her favorite smell is carrots fresh from the dirt.
Editor Note: While BackdoorSurvival.com currently receives no commission for sales of their products, ZipStitch is providing a healthy 20% discount for all of our readers. Please use Promo Code: BD20:
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