Health Library

Taking Care of Your Stitches or Staples

Topic 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 antibiotic 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.

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.

It is 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. Check your wound every day for signs of infection.

Your cut may not need a bandage if it is not likely to get dirty, it is not draining, and it is 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.

Your doctor will tell you when to have your stitches or staples removed. When deciding how long to leave your stitches or staples in place, your doctor will consider several factors, such as the location, depth, and size of your wound and your general health. Be sure to follow his or her instructions.

Most of the time, stitches are removed:

  • From the face in 4 to 5 days.
  • From the hands and arms in 5 to 10 days.
  • From the feet, legs, chest, abdomen, and back in 7 to 14 days.
  • Over a joint in 7 to 14 days.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Current as of June 4, 2014

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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