How to Care For Stitches

If you have stitches after a surgical procedure, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you heal. Make sure to follow any instructions that your doctor or surgeon has given you. Taking proper care of your wound can help reduce scarring and keeping them free from dirt, hair, glass and any other small debris is key.

If your doctor recommends covering or dressing your stitches, begin by applying a gauze pad that fits your wound well. This will allow the gauze pad to absorb any fluids from the wound to protect it. The dressing should fully cover the area that needs to heal. Leave ½ inch of the cover extending beyond the wound to make sure the wound is covered properly.

Then, place a wrap on top of the gauze to keep it in place. Be sure not to wrap it too tightly1. Make sure to wrap/tape your wound with waterproof supplies. A wrap can help keep your dressing in place if your wound is on a joint or an area of the body that bends or flexes when you move. Also, if you have sensitive skin, wraps are gentle and easy to remove.

For any questions or concerns on changing a dressing contact your doctor. Always follow any specific wound care instructions they have given you when caring for your stitches.

Showering With Stitches

Follow your doctor’s instructions on steps to take when showering with stitches.

Signs of Infection

A clean, protected wound is key to the healing process so make sure to check your wound every day.1

Always look for signs of infection. Call your doctor immediately if any of the following signs occur:

  • Tenderness
  • Redness
  • Swelling around the wound
  • Throbbing
  • Pus
  • Fever


1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000498.htm (link is external)