How to clean a wound with stitches

Written by linda st.cyr
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Stitches help a deep wound heal. After receiving stitches, a physician or nurse will give you instructions on how to care for your stitched-up wound. This kind of care may depend on whether your stitches are adhesive, dissolving or stitches that need to be taken out in 3-14 days.

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Things you need

  • Mild soap
  • Soft washcloth
  • Warm water
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Bandage

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  1. 1

    Wait at least 24 hours before cleaning a wound that has just received stitches. A doctor may request that you wait between 24 and 48 hours before you can wash the area. This is to ensure that the stitches do the job of helping close the wound.

  2. 2

    Check the stitched-up wound each day. When the allotted time has passed and you are allowed to wash the wound, wash it with only warm water. Dab it with a soft washcloth very gently to remove any accumulated dirt and crusting on the stitches. Check the stitched area for redness, irritation and fluids. If a clear yellow fluid drains from the stitched area, a bandage will be needed to cover it.

  3. 3

    Clean around the wound with a mild soap and a soft washcloth. This will prevent dirt from falling into the stitched area, which can lead to infection. Cleanse the area gently with the mild soap, then dab with a soft, dry towel until the wound is completely dry. After drying the wound, it may be necessary to place a small amount of antibiotic ointment over the stitched area. The physician who put in the stitches will let you know if this is necessary. Antibiotic ointment will help prevent infections. If an adhesive is used in place of the stitching then the antibiotic ointment will not be necessary and can pose the risk of having the wound reopen because of the reaction between the adhesive and the ointment.

  4. 4

    Call your doctor if you notice grey fluid seeping from the wound, red streaks above the wound, numbing around the wound, dirt that won't come out and/or tenderness and inflammation. These are signs that could indicate that the stitched wound is infected and needs to be treated by a doctor immediately.

  5. 5

    Reduce pain, swelling and help speed up the healing process of the stitched wound by elevating it above the heart for the first few days the stitches are in place. The length of time the stitches remain closed depends on the location of the wound. Some areas such as knees and elbows may require more time to heal because these areas move a lot.

Tips and warnings

  • Use only water on the wound when cleaning and soap around the outside of the wound.
  • Keep an eye on the stitched area to prevent infection. If you notice anything abnormal about the wound call your doctor immediately.

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