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Suture questions

Definition

  • This guideline covers common questions about sutures or stitches

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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

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 and 4) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • 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

  1. Suture Care for a normal sutured wound:
    • Can get wound wet (e.g. bathing or swimming) after 24 hours.
    • Apply antibiotic ointment 3 times a day (Reason: to prevent infection and a thick scab).
    • 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 every 4 hours OR ibuprofen every 6 hours as needed. (See Dosage table)
  2. Removal Date: Guidelines for when particular sutures (stitches) should be removed:
    • Face - 3-4 days
    • Neck - 5 days
    • Scalp - 6 days
    • Chest or abdomen - 7 days
    • Arms and back of hands - 7 days
    • Legs and top of feet - 10 days
    • Back - 10 days
    • Palms and soles - 14 days
  3. Removal Delays: Don't miss your appointment for removing stitches. Stitches removed late can leave unnecessary skin marks and occasionally scarring. It also makes suture removal more difficult.
  4. Suture Out Early: If the sutures come out early:
    • Reinforce the wound with tape or butterfly Band-Aids until the office visit
  5. 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 remove it.
  6. Call Your Doctor If
    • Looks infected
    • Fever
    • Sutures come out early
    • Your child becomes worse or develops any of the "Call Your Doctor Now" symptoms