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  • Suture Questions

    Definition

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

    When to Call Us for Suture Questions

    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 Us 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 Us 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 Us 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

    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.
    Copyright 1994-2013 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

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