If you have stitches, take care to:
- keep them clean and dry
- watch out for any increase in redness, swelling or pain
This will reduce your risk of developing an infection, or catch it early.
A doctor or nurse should tell you how to care for your wound. If you are unsure what to do, ask your healthcare team for advice.
Find out more about getting stitches wet.
Protect your stitches
It's important not to scratch your stitches; even though they're strong, scratching may damage them.
You should avoid contact sports, such as football or hockey, to give your wound the best possible chance to heal.
You should not go swimming until your wound has healed and your stitches have been removed.
For more information, read How soon can I go swimming after surgery?
If your child has stitches, do not let them play with water, mud, sand and paint.
Playing with things like these could cause the wound area to get dirty or sore, or cause an infection.
Children may also be advised to avoid PE at school until their wound has healed.
Signs of infection
Watch out for any signs of infection near or around the stitches, such as:
- increased redness around the wound
- pus or bleeding from the wound
- the wound feeling warm
- an unpleasant smell from the wound
- increasing pain
- a high temperature
- swollen glands
You will be told if you need to return to a GP or a nurse to have your stitches removed. These are the usual time periods:
- stitches on your head – you'll need to return after 3 to 5 days
- stitches over joints, such as your knees or elbows – you'll need to return after 10 to 14 days
- stitches on other parts of your body – you'll need to return after 7 to 10 days
Some stitches are designed to dissolve gradually and will disappear on their own. Find out how long stitches take to dissolve.
Page last reviewed: 6 February 2020
Next review due: 6 February 2023