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Children's Symptoms > Skin - Localized Symptoms > Suture Questions
Suture Questions

DEFINITION

  • This topic covers common questions about sutures or stitches
  • Skin glue (Dermabond) is also covered

See More Appropriate Topic (instead of this one) If


WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR

Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If

  • Not moving or too weak to stand

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
  • Wound looks infected (redness, red streaks, swollen, pus)
  • Fever occurs
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently

Call Your Doctor 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 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 FOR SUTURES

  1. 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 or Dermabond has fallen off. (Reason: Water in the wound can interfere with healing).
    • Apply antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin) 3 times a day (no prescription needed). Reason: to prevent infection and a thick scab. (Caution: don't apply any ointments or creams to Dermabond skin glue)
    • 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 (e.g. Tylenol) or ibuprofen as needed (see Dosage table).
  2. Removal Date: Guidelines for when particular sutures (stitches) should be removed:
    Face4-5 days
    Neck 7 days
    Arms and back of hands7 days
    Scalp7-10 days
    Chest, abdomen or back7- 10 days
    Legs and top of feet10 days
    Palms, soles, fingers or toes12-14 days
    Overlying a joint12-14 days
  3. Removal Delays:
    • Don't miss your appointment for removing sutures.
    • Leaving sutures in too long 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 pick it off. (Reason: prevent scarring)
  6. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Looks infected
    • Fever
    • Sutures come out early
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.


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.

Last Reviewed: 9/15/2011

Last Revised: 8/1/2011

Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.


Additional Resources:

 How to use the Adult Health Topics pages
 When to call the doctor
 Reviewers of Clinical Content

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to 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.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be for medical diagnosis or treatment.

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