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Suture Care

What are sutures?

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

How should I care for my 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.

How do I clean my 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.

What can I do to help my 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.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • 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.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • Your sutures come apart.

  • Blood soaks through your bandages.

  • You suddenly cannot move your injured joint.

  • You have sudden numbness around your wound.

  • You see red streaks coming from your wound.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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