Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Suture Questions


  • Common questions about sutures or stitches
  • Stapled wounds are treated the same as sutured wounds
  • Skin glue (Dermabond) questions are also covered

Call or Return If

  • Starts to looks infected
  • Fever occurs
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic

When Sutures (Stitches) are Needed for Cuts

  • Any cut that is split open or gaping needs sutures.
  • Cuts longer than ½ inch (12 mm) usually need sutures.
  • On the face, cuts longer than ¼ inch (6 mm) usually need to be seen. They usually need closure with sutures or skin glue.
  • Any open wound that may need sutures should be seen as soon as possible. Ideally, they should be checked and closed within 6 hours. Reason: To prevent wound infections. There is no cutoff, however, for treating open wounds.

When Sutures (Stitches) Should be Removed

  • Stitches and staples are used to keep wounds together during healing.
  • They need to be removed within 4-14 days.
  • The specific removal date depends on the location of the stitches or staples.
  • Removal should not be delayed. Reason: will leave skin marks.

After Care Advice

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. Avoid getting Dermabond skin glue wet until it has fallen off. Reason: Water in the wound can interfere with healing.
  • Use an antibiotic ointment 3 times a day. An example is Polysporin. No prescription is needed. Reason: To prevent infection and a thick scab. (Caution: Don't apply any ointments or creams to Dermabond skin glue.)
  • Cleanse surface with warm water once daily or if becomes dirty.
  • Change wound dressing when wet or dirty.
  • A dressing is no longer needed when edge of the wound is closed. This takes about 48 hours. Exception: Dressing is needed to prevent sutures from catching on clothing.
Pain Medicine:
  • To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed.
Removal Date - When Sutures (Stitches) Should be Removed:
  • Face: 4-5 days
  • Neck: 7 days
  • Scalp: 7-10 days (same for staples)
  • Chest, stomach, and back: 7-10 days
  • Arms and back of hands: 7 days
  • Legs and top of feet: 10 days
  • Fingers and toes: 10-14 days
  • Palms and soles: 12-14 days
  • Over a joint: 12-14 days
Removal Delays:
  • Don't miss your appointment for removing sutures.
  • Leaving sutures in too long can leave skin marks. Sometimes, it can cause scarring.
  • It also makes taking the sutures out harder.
Suture Out Early:
  • If the sutures come out early, close the wound with tape. You can also use butterfly Band-Aids.
  • Do this until the office visit.
Wound Protection After Sutures Are Removed:
  • Protect the wound from injury during the month after taking sutures out.
  • Avoid sports that could re-injure the wound. If a sport is essential, cover with tape before playing.
  • Allow the scab to fall off on its own. Do not try to pick it off. (Reason: Prevents scarring.)

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2021 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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