Wound Infection - Suture Site
- Common questions about sutures or stitches
- Skin glue (Dermabond) questions are also covered
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
CARE ADVICE FOR SUTURES
- 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.
- Pain Medicine:
- To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.
- Removal Date: Guidelines for when particular sutures (stitches) should be removed:
Face 4-5 days Neck 7 days Arms and back of hands 7 days Scalp 7-10 days Chest, abdomen or back 7- 10 days Legs and top of feet 10 days Palms, soles, fingers or toes 12-14 days Overlying a joint 12-14 days
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Starts to looks infected
- Fever occurs
- Sutures come out early
- Your child becomes worse
Author: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last reviewed: 9/1/2012
Last revised: 1/13/2013 5:32:06 PM