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Suture Care


Sutures, or stitches, are used to close cuts and wounds on the skin. Sutures need to be removed after your wound has healed.


Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return to have your sutures removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care for your sutures:

Keep your sutures clean and dry. You may need to cover your sutures with a bandage for 24 to 48 hours, or as directed. Do not bump or hit the suture area, as this could open the wound. Do not trim or shorten the ends of your sutures. If they rub on your clothing, put a gauze bandage between the sutures and your clothes.

Clean your wound:

Carefully wash your wound with soap and water. For mouth and lip wounds, rinse your mouth after meals and at bedtime. Ask your healthcare provider what to use to rinse your mouth. If you have a scalp wound, you may gently wash your hair every 2 days with mild shampoo. Do not use hair products, such as hair spray.

Help your wound heal:

  • Limit activity. Do not stretch the skin around your wound. This will help prevent bleeding and swelling of the wound area.

  • Elevate your wound above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your wound on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever and chills.

  • Your wound is red, warm, swollen, or leaking pus.

  • There is a bad smell coming from your wound.

  • You have increased pain in the wound area.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You see red streaks coming from your wound.

  • You cannot move the joint that was injured.

  • You have sudden numbness or swelling around your wound.

  • Blood soaks through your bandages.

  • Your sutures come apart.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.