Wound Infection - Suture Site
- This topic covers common questions about sutures or stitches
- Skin glue (Dermabond) is also covered
When to call your doctor
Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If
- Not moving or too weak to stand
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 that won't stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure
- Suture came out early and wound has re-opened
- Wound looks infected (redness, red streaks, swollen, 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 and 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 and you don't think your child needs to be seen
HOME 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 or Dermabond has fallen off. (Reason: Water in the wound can interfere with healing).
- Apply antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin) 3 times a day (no prescription needed). Reason: to prevent infection and a thick scab. (Caution: don't apply any ointments or creams to Dermabond skin glue)
- Cleanse with warm water once daily or if becomes soiled.
- Change wound dressing when wet or soiled.
- Dressing no longer needed when edge of wound closed (usually 48 hours). EXCEPTION: dressing needed to prevent sutures from catching on clothing.
- For pain relief, give acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) or ibuprofen as needed (see Dosage 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 unnecessary skin marks and occasionally scarring.
- It also makes suture removal more difficult.
- Suture Out Early: If the sutures come out early, reinforce the wound with tape or butterfly Band-Aids until the office visit.
- Wound Protection: After removal of sutures:
- Protect the wound from injury during the following month.
- Avoid sports that could re-injure the wound. If a sport is essential, apply tape before playing.
- Allow the scab to fall off naturally. Do not try to pick it off. (Reason: prevent scarring)
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Looks infected
- Sutures come out early
- Your child becomes worse
Author: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last reviewed: 9/15/2011
Last revised: 8/1/2011 3:28:09 PM