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Suture Care

Brief Version

How can I take care of my child's stitches?

Keep the wound dry for the first 24 hours. Then you can begin washing it gently with warm water and liquid soap 1 or 2 times a day. Apply an antibiotic ointment after you wash the wound to keep a thick scab from forming over the stitches. Do not soak the wound. Do not let your child swim or take a bath until the stitches are removed. A brief shower is safe after 24 hours.

When should the stitches be taken out?

Stitches are ready for removal at different times, depending on the site. Stitches on the face are usually removed in a few days, while stitches on the palms of hands may not be removed for 14 days. Your child's stitches should be removed on the correct day. Stitches removed too late can leave unnecessary skin marks or scarring. If any stitches come out too early, call your child's doctor and, in the meantime, tape the edges of the wound together with adhesive tape or butterfly Band-Aids. Continue the tape until the date when the sutures are due to be removed.

How can I protect my child's wound?

After removal of stitches:

  • Protect the wound from injury during the following month.
  • Avoid sports that could reinjure the wound. If a sport is essential, apply tape before playing.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • An unexplained fever occurs.
  • There is a red streak or area that spreads from the wound.

Call your child's doctor within 24 hours if:

  • The wound looks infected (pus or a pimple)
  • A stitch comes out early.
  • You have other questions or concerns.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-03-02
Last reviewed: 2006-03-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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