- This guideline covers common questions about sutures or stitches
See More Appropriate Topic
- If your child has a cut and you wonder if she needs stitches, see Skin Trauma
- If wound looks infected, see Wound Infection
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
- 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)
- 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
- 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.
- 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 remove it.
- Call Your Doctor If
- Looks infected
- Sutures come out early
- Your child becomes worse or develops any of the “Call Your Doctor Now” symptoms