Stitches, or sutures, are a standard treatment for minor wounds that cannot heal on their own or cannot be surgically repaired. A cut or incision closure procedure is very safe, but after stitches, many people have questions about How to take care of stitches to prevent infection.
4 Tips for How to take care of stitches
If you or your child have recently had stitches, here are some tips to keep the stitches clean, healthy, and as pain-free as possible.
1. Keep the Wound Clean
Most doctors recommend keeping your wound dry for 24 hours to reduce the chance of infection. After 24 hours, use a light dab with a damp cloth to clean the wound, removing dirt, debris, and any oozing fluid. Depending on the size of the wound, it may be wise to apply a bandage to keep it clean. Children should avoid playing in sand, mud, or mud until the stitches are removed.
2. Avoid Excessive Water
You will need to use water to clean the wound, but submerging the wound or exposing it to excessive moisture can adversely affect the integrity of the stitches. Avoid swimming and bathing completely until the stitches are removed. You can take a shower, but don’t allow the sore to splash on the head, and don’t stay in the shower too long. If the wound becomes wet, pat it gently.
3. Resist the Urge to Scratch
The stitches may itch, but it is important to resist the urge to scratch them. The worst-case scenario is that the stitches can be pulled out or torn. Excessive scratching can also increase the chance of infection if fingers and hands are dirty. Babies are especially tempted to scratch the wound, so parents can cover the wound with gauze and antibiotic ointment to keep their fingers away.
4. Keep Your Movements Limited
Excessive movement near the wound can potentially tear the stitches and reopen the wound, so it’s best to avoid putting pressure on or near the wound when possible. Most adults won’t have too many problems here. Unfortunately, in the excitement of playing, children with stitches have a tendency to forget or ignore the danger. Not all movements will be restricted, but just make sure children understand that putting pressure on the tender area should be limited. Contact sports should be avoided until the stitches are removed.
Symptoms to Monitor
If you follow your doctor’s instructions and follow these tips after getting stitches, you are much less likely to experience any complications or infection. But just in case, you should be aware of the symptoms of infection so that you know when to seek additional treatment.
Increased pain: Pain is common after the procedure, but stitches should be relatively pain-free afterward.
Progressive redness: Watch for redness that spreads away from the wound.
Swelling: Some swelling is also normal after the procedure, but it should go away.
Pus: Fluid discharge from the wound is expected, but excessive pus is a sign of infection.
Foul Odor: The wound should not smell. If this happens, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Fever: Always watch for a fever, as it can indicate an infection.