Suture Questions  

This Care Guide Covers:

  • Common questions about sutures or stitches
  • Skin glue (Dermabond) questions are also covered

If not, see these topics
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Laceration - Scalp (After Staples)
Laceration - Scalp (After Staples)

Wound Infection - Suture Site
Wound Infection - Suture Site

When to Call Your Doctor

Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If
  • Not moving or too weak to stand
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Major surgical wound that's starting to open up
  • Bleeding won't stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure
  • Stitch came out early and part of wound has opened up
  • Wound looks infected (spreading redness, pus)
  • Fever occurs
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
  • Suture came out early but wound is still closed
  • Suture removal is overdue
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • You have other questions or concerns
Parent Care at Home If
  • Sutured wound with no complications
Causes & Health Information

CARE ADVICE FOR SUTURES

  1. Suture Care for a Normal Sutured Wound:
    • Keep sutured wounds completely dry for first 24 hours. (4 hours for Dermabond skin glue). If needed, use a sponge bath.
    • After 24 hours, can take brief showers.
    • Avoid swimming, baths or soaking the wound until sutures are removed. Avoid getting Dermabond skin glue wet until it has fallen off. Reason: Water in the wound can interfere with healing.
    • Use an antibiotic ointment 3 times a day. An example is Polysporin. No prescription is needed. Reason: To prevent infection and a thick scab. (Caution: Don't apply any ointments or creams to Dermabond skin glue.)
    • Cleanse surface with warm water once daily or if becomes dirty.
    • Change wound dressing when wet or dirty.
    • A dressing is no longer needed when edge of wound closed. This takes about 48 hours. Exception: Dressing is needed to prevent sutures from catching on clothing.
  2. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.
  3. Removal Date: Guidelines for when particular sutures (stitches) should be removed:
    Face4-5 days
    Neck 7 days
    Arms and back of hands7 days
    Scalp7-10 days
    Chest, abdomen or back7- 10 days
    Legs and top of feet10 days
    Palms, soles, fingers or toes12-14 days
    Overlying a joint12-14 days
  4. Removal Delays:
    • Don't miss your appointment for removing sutures.
    • Leaving sutures in too long can leave skin marks. Sometimes, it can cause scarring.
    • It also makes taking the sutures out harder.
  5. Suture Out Early:
    • If the sutures come out early, close the wound with tape. You can also use butterfly Band-Aids.
    • Do this until the office visit.
  6. Wound Protection: After taking the sutures out:
    • Protect the wound from injury during the month after.
    • Avoid sports that could re-injure the wound. If a sport is essential, cover with tape before playing.
    • Allow the scab to fall off on its own. Do not try to pick it off. (Reason: Prevents scarring.)
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Starts to looks infected
    • Fever occurs
    • Sutures come out early
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
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Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 9/1/2012

Last Revised: 1/13/2013

Content Set: Child Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.