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Taking Care of Your Stitches or Staples

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Taking Care of Your Stitches or Staples

Overview

Your wound will need care and observation. After the stitches or staples are put in, the area may be covered with a thin layer of ointment and covered with a nonstick bandage. Your doctor will give you instructions on how to care for your stitches or staples. Be sure to follow those instructions.

If you did not get instructions, follow this general advice.

  • Keep the wound bandaged and dry for the first day.

    Check with your doctor about how long you need to keep your wound dry. In some cases the bandage can be removed after 24 to 48 hours, and the wound can then be gently washed to remove the crust. Do not scrub or soak the wound during the first 48 hours.

  • After the first day, wash around the wound with clean water 2 times a day.

    Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.

  • Cover the wound with petroleum jelly and a nonstick bandage if needed.
    • Use a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline. Apply more petroleum jelly and replace the bandage as needed.
    • Your cut may not need a bandage if it's not likely to get dirty, it's not draining, and it's in an area where clothing will not rub it. If you use a bandage, change it every 24 hours and anytime it gets wet or very dirty.
  • Check your wound every day for signs of infection.

    It's normal for stitches or staples to cause a small amount of skin redness and swelling where the stitch or staple enters the skin. Your wound may itch or feel irritated.

Your doctor will tell you when to have your stitches or staples removed.

Credits

Current as of: July 11, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board: All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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