Treatments and tests

Suture care

What are sutures?

Sutures are a joining of the edges of a wound by stitching or a similar process. Sutures can sometimes be called stitches.

It is important to care for your sutures to help the healing process.

Keep the wound dry

  • It is important to keep your wound dry, especially for the first 24 hours. The wound needs time to heal and moisture will slow this down.
  • After the first 24 hours you can wet the wound for a short time, for example in the shower. Pat the wound dry immediately after it gets wet.
  • Do not soak the wound or swim until the sutures have been removed.
  • Only use creams or emollients (ointments) recommended by your doctor.
  • If you sutures are also dressed with bandages, follow the care instructions given by your doctor.

Keep the wound clean

  • Keep your wound clean and dirt free.
  • Avoid any activities that may put strain on the area that has been sutured. This could lead to sutures coming apart.

The healing process

  • Do not pick scabs. They will fall off once the wound is healed or when the sutures are removed.
  • A slight ooze may occur when the suturing is removed. This is normal.
  • It is normal for the scar to be red in colour initially, but this will fade over 2 to 3 months.

Signs of infection

A wound may become infected. Signs of infection are:

  • fever within 48 hours of suturing
  • redness
  • swelling
  • increased pain
  • excessive or persistent ooze
  • pus or smelly discharge.

Pain relief

  • If you have mild pain, consider taking paracetamol or ibuprofen and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Removal of sutures

  • If sutures fall out before their removal date see your doctor.
  • In some cases, disposable sutures are used. These stiches will dissolve and break down themselves. These will not need to be removed by a doctor.
  • Your GP may be able to remove the sutures.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Visit a GP after hours
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222

Acknowledgements
Child and Adolescent Health Service

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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