A sticking plaster is a small patch of gauze bandage, set in a strip of flesh-coloured adhesive tape. It is used to cover cuts and wounds that are small enough not to require stitches or surgery.
There are, however, a number of misconceptions about its use and function.
Many people (especially the more hirsute) hate removing sticking plasters due to the acute depilatory1 sensation that removal entails. It is a little-known fact that most sticking plasters have a secret 'quick release' feature. On the standard rectangular strip sticking plaster there are two very thin strips of tape on either side of the gauze. Their surface area is obviously too small to adhere properly to the skin, if this was in fact their purpose. Their real function is to catch on clothes, socks, carpets, and so on. This causes the sticking plaster to immediately lose all adhesion and eject itself into oblivion, never to be seen again2.This usually occurs without the wearer knowing.
Another popular misconception is that the sticking plaster is meant for general use, anywhere on the body. This is not so. The sticking plaster was never intended, or indeed designed, for use on the arms, hands or fingers. Or more correctly, it was never designed to be applied single-handedly.
But if you must use one, and don't want to look like a wuss in the Accident and Emergency Room, please read the following instructions.
Procedure for Single-handed Sticking Plaster Application
Open the packaging. This is achieved by gripping one end between the thumb and forefinger of your one good hand and the other end between the upper and lower incisors of the mouth of your choice. Pull.
Attempt to repeat the above step to remove the gloss paper backing from the adhesive tape. This will prove to be far more difficult than the first step due to the sticking plaster's automatic curling reflex3.
Dangle the now freed sticking plaster over the wound. Quickly calculate where to position the sticking plaster in order to make maximum use of the minimal gauze bandage. Lower one of the sticky ends allowing it come into contact with the skin. Swear quietly upon realising it is in the wrong position. Repeat step three again and again until corrected4.
Stretch the sticking plaster out over the wound and fix the other sticky end in place. Immediately activate the secret release mechanism by knocking the sticking plaster on a sleeve. Swear loudly and get another sticking plaster. Repeat steps one to four as often as necessary, or until bleeding stops of its own accord.
Most people who have used sticking plasters will agree that bleeding profusely is actually the more preferable option.
1 Meaning having the capability to remove hair.
2 For this reason, cooks in restaurants use blue sticking plasters instead of the standard flesh-coloured ones, to make it easier for customers to find them in their food.
3 Upon release from its paper backing, the sticking plaster will instinctively defend itself against use and curl back up on itself. The sticking plaster will be caught on its own adhesive in a loop, rendering it useless.
4 The sticking plaster will fight against this by losing adhesion the more this is done.