911 warning

Suture Questions

Return to Index


Does this describe your child's symptoms?

Click image for more info

Laceration - Scalp (After Staples)

Wound Infection - Suture Site


  • This topic covers common questions about sutures or stitches

  • Skin glue (Dermabond) is also covered

If not, see these topics

  • Your child has a cut and you wonder if she needs stitches, see CUTS, SCRAPES, or BRUISES

  • Wound looks infected, see WOUND INFECTION


When to Call Your Doctor

call 911

Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If

  • Not moving or too weak to stand

call now

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • Your child looks or acts very sick

  • Major surgical wound that's starting to open up

  • Bleeding that won't stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure

  • Suture came out early and wound has re-opened

  • Wound looks infected (redness, red streaks, swollen, pus)

  • Fever occurs

  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently

call within 24 hours

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently

  • Suture came out early and wound is still closed

  • Suture removal is overdue

call within 24 hours

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns

home care

Parent Care at Home If

  • Sutured wound with no complications and you don't think your child needs to be seen



  1. Suture Care for a normal sutured wound:

    • Keep sutured wounds completely dry for first 24 hours (4 hours for Dermabond skin glue). If needed, use a sponge bath.

    • After 24 hours, can take brief showers.

    • Avoid swimming, baths or soaking the wound until sutures are removed or Dermabond has fallen off. (Reason: Water in the wound can interfere with healing).

    • Apply antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin) 3 times a day (no prescription needed). Reason: to prevent infection and a thick scab. (Caution: don't apply any ointments or creams to Dermabond skin glue)

    • Cleanse with warm water once daily or if becomes soiled.

    • Change wound dressing when wet or soiled.

    • Dressing no longer needed when edge of wound closed (usually 48 hours). EXCEPTION: dressing needed to prevent sutures from catching on clothing.

    • For pain relief, give acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) or ibuprofen as needed (see Dosage table).

  2. Removal Date: Guidelines for when particular sutures (stitches) should be removed:


    4-5 days


    7 days

    Arms and back of hands

    7 days


    7-10 days

    Chest, abdomen or back

    7- 10 days

    Legs and top of feet

    10 days

    Palms, soles, fingers or toes

    12-14 days

    Overlying a joint

    12-14 days

  3. Removal Delays:

    • Don't miss your appointment for removing sutures.

    • Leaving sutures in too long can leave unnecessary skin marks and occasionally scarring.

    • It also makes suture removal more difficult.

  4. Suture Out Early: If the sutures come out early, reinforce the wound with tape or butterfly Band-Aids until the office visit.

  5. Wound Protection: After removal of sutures:

    • Protect the wound from injury during the following month.

    • Avoid sports that could re-injure the wound. If a sport is essential, apply tape before playing.

    • Allow the scab to fall off naturally. Do not try to pick it off. (Reason: prevent scarring)

  6. Call Your Doctor If:

    • Looks infected

    • Fever

    • Sutures come out early

    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

Sign up for our e-newsletter!

Get tips to help you manage your family's health, options to boost your fitness and advice to live your best life.