Try to keep your stitches dry for at least 48 hours after surgery.
A doctor or nurse 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?
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 should not be soaked (for example, in the bath).
Make sure you pat the area dry afterwards.
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 should not 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 shower, with a waterproof dressing – you may be able to use a rubber glove or plastic bag if they will cover your wound
- have a wash standing in a bath tub, 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 did not 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.
After you've had stitches, you should be given some aftercare advice and contact details in case you're worried or have any questions. You could also call NHS 111 or a GP for advice if you do not have this information.
Read the answers to more questions about accidents, first aid and treatments.
Page last reviewed: 6 March 2020
Next review due: 6 March 2023