Can I get my stitches (sutures) wet in the bath or shower?

Try to keep your stitches (sutures) dry for at least 48 hours after surgery.

Your healthcare professional will tell you when you can get your stitches wet or if they need to be kept dry. This may depend on what kind of wound and dressing you have.

When can I have a bath or shower after surgery?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says that it's safe to shower 48 hours after surgery. After 48 hours, surgical wounds can get wet without increasing the risk of infection.

After this time, you can get your stitches wet briefly with a light spray (such as in the shower), but they shouldn't be soaked (for example, in the bath). Make sure you pat the area dry afterwards.

Dressings

If you have a dressing over your stitches, avoid getting it wet.

Some dressings are waterproof, so you could wet your dressing lightly – for example, with the spray from a shower. However, you shouldn't submerge your dressing under water. If you're not sure whether your dressing is waterproof, avoid getting it wet.

Do not remove the dressing unless you're advised to do so by a healthcare professional. For more information, read our common health question: Is it better to have a bath or shower after surgery?

Keeping stitches dry

If you have been advised to keep your stitches dry, you could:

  • cover your stitches when you have a bath or shower – for example, with a special waterproof cover, or you could use a rubber glove or plastic bag
  • have a wash standing in a bath, using a cloth to clean yourself and avoiding your stitches
  • dab your stitches dry with a clean towel after washing, even if the wound area didn't get wet, to ensure the area is completely dry

If your stitches get wet accidentally, simply dry the area immediately with a clean towel and make sure all the moisture around the stitches is soaked up.

If your stitches get wet and you're concerned about the effect this may have on them, call your GP or NHS 111 for advice.

Read the answers to more questions about accidents, first aid and treatments.

Further information:

First aid: sterile dressings

Find out how to use a sterile dressing, including how much pressure to apply to the wound.

Media last reviewed: 19/03/2013

Next review due: 19/03/2015

Page last reviewed: 04/06/2014

Next review due: 03/06/2016