Wound Care and Sutures

Signs and symptoms of infection
Most wounds that are going to become infected do so 24 to 72 hours after the initial injury. Keep in mind that a slight rim of redness confined to the edge of a wound can be normal, especially if the wound is sutured. However, the area of redness should not spread. Pain and tenderness also occur normally, but the pain and swelling should be greatest during the second day and should then diminish.

Home Care
Do not wash the area for 24 hours after the wound occurrence unless otherwise directed by your physician. Then begin washing it with warm water and liquid soap one or two times each day. Baths are usually safe after 48 hours. Dress the wound as directed by your doctor. Your nurse can demonstrate for you.

Suture Removal
Sutures are ready for removal at different times, depending on the site of the wound. Have your child's stitches/staples removed on the correct day. Stitches removed too late can leave unnecessary skin marks or even scarring. If any sutures come out early, call your child's physician. In the meantime, reinforce the wound with tape.

For some wounds or incisions, steri-strips are used in place of sutures. These look like small pieces of tape that are placed across the incision. Steri-strips will fall off on their own after about 3-4 days. They need no special care, and your child can shower or bath as discussed above.

If your child needed sutures, your child will most likely develop a scar. Scars vary in degree depending on a variety of factors. The scar can be kept to a minimum by taking the sutures out at the right time, preventing wound infections, and protecting the wound from being reinjured during the following month. The healing process goes on for 6 to 12 months, and only then will the scar assume its final appearance.

Points to Remember

  • Wash your hands before & after touching wound.
  • Pin diapers below abdominal dressing to avoid contamination.
  • Report any unusual appearance, bleeding, or drainage.
  • Carry out special wound care, as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Inspect wound for signs of infection: Redness, swelling, heat, pain, excess drainage.
  • Provide nutritious diet

Call Your Doctor Immediately If
  • An unexplained fever (over 1000 F , or over 37.80 C ) occurs.
  • A red streak runs from the wound.

Within 24 Hours If

  • Puss starts to drain from the wound.
  • The wound becomes more tender than it was on the second day.
  • A pimple starts to form where a stitch comes through the skin.
  • A stitch comes out early.
  • You have other concerns or questions.