What are the best practices for the aftercare of stitches?

Stitches, in medical terminology, refer to sutures used to secure and close wounds for proper healing. A smooth recovery process is dependent on taking adequate care of any injuries, whether they were minor ones or ones that required surgery. 

In this guide, we’ll go over the best practices of aftercare for stitches, giving you the necessary information or precautions for your recovery.

But first, let’s understand stitches and their types.

Understanding Stitches

Stitches are an important part of wound closure and play an essential role in the healing process after surgery or injury. Some stitches need to be removed, while others are absorbable and dissolve over time. You must understand the various types of stitches and their purpose before going into aftercare practices.  

Types of Stitches

Stitches, or sutures, come in two main types: absorbable and non-absorbable. Each serves specific purposes in wound closure and tissue healing.

Absorbable Sutures

The absorbable sutures do not require your doctor’s assistance for removal. Our body’s tissues naturally contain enzymes that help in digestion. Those enzymes also help in dissolving the absorbable sutures.

Absorbable sutures are usually made with:

  • Polyglycolic Acid (PGA)
  • Polylactic Acid (PLA)
  • Polydioxanone (PDO)

Non-absorbable Sutures

Nonabsorbable sutures need to be removed by your doctor later on or, in some cases, may stay in permanently. Expert assistance is required to ensure the proper care of these sutures.

Non-absorbable sutures are generally made with:

  • Nylon
  • Polyester 
  • Polypropylene

Aftercare for Stitches

Aftercare for stitches is essential to ensuring appropriate healing and lessening the risk of complications after surgery. Having a comprehensive aftercare plan is crucial for promoting the best recovery possible and reducing the risk of infection after stitches are removed. 

Here are some aftercare tips for stitches to ensure optimal healing:

Avoid Scratching 

Avoid the desire to touch or scratch the stitches, as this can hinder the healing process and possibly cause issues. Patients can achieve a quicker and smoother recovery by using gentle care and by avoiding unnecessary touch on the wound.

If itching gets too much, try applying a calming anti-itch cream that your doctor has recommended or using a cold compress to relieve discomfort without sacrificing healing. 

Clean the area

It is essential to keep the area around the wound clean after getting stitches. First of all, carefully clean the affected area with water and mild soap while avoiding the use of strong chemicals. 

After cleaning the area thoroughly, use a sterile, soft towel to pat the area dry. Be careful not to use any harsh movements that might interfere with the sensitive healing process. 

Protect the Stitches

It is essential to keep the stitches dry for the first 24 hours after stitching. After this time, it’s generally acceptable to let the wound get wet, but still, avoid having long immersion in places like baths and swimming pools to promote the best healing procedure.

Be cautious when dressing and undressing to avoid accidentally snagging or pulling on the stitches, which could lead to discomfort or disruption of the healing process.

Use protective barriers like bandages or shields to reduce the chance of trauma to the stitches if you’re engaging in activities like sports or laborious work that could cause injury to the area of the wound.

Apply Antibiotic Ointment

Apply an antibiotic ointment on the wound as suggested by the doctor. This antibiotic ointment will help prevent infections, facilitating a quicker and less complicated healing process.

Specialised wound care products with ingredients like honey or silver can offer extra benefits in terms of accelerating wound healing and having an antimicrobial effect. Make sure that you stick to your doctor’s instructions about how often and how long to apply antibiotic ointment, and stop using it instantly if you experience any adverse side effects.

Prescribed Medication

Take the medications prescribed by your doctor, and follow the suggested dosage and routine. These medications will help control pain and prevent possible infections.

In the case of surgery, adding prescription medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help in controlling post-operative pain and inflammation. Dietary supplements like zinc and vitamin C can also boost immunological response and wound healing. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking other medications that may interact with them, make sure to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements or medications.

Watch for Infection Symptoms

Check the area for any symptoms of infection, such as increased pain, redness, swelling, or fluid surrounding the stitches. If any of these signs appear, consult with your doctor immediately to get more guidance.

Be mindful of systemic symptoms like fever, chills, or discomfort, which may signal a more severe infection needing immediate medical attention. These symptoms are in addition to the typical indicators of infection, such as redness, swelling, increased pain, or drainage from the wound site. 

Get in touch with your doctor as soon as possible if you encounter any of these symptoms so they can assess and treat you further.

Schedule Appointments with Doctor

Follow all of your doctor’s appointments for further examinations. These consultations will help monitor the healing process and address any issues that may come up during the recovery process.

Take the initiative to speak up for yourself and look for the help and resources you need to maximise your recovery and get the best results.

Avoid Challenging Activities

The stitches may reopen when you perform complex activities. So, in order to protect stitches from pain or reopening, avoid doing the challenging tasks. Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding any restrictions on your activities to ensure a quick and painless healing process.

It entails tasks involving heavy lifting, repetitive motion, standing or sitting for extended periods, and activities that pose the risk of injuring or disturbing the surgical area.

Instead, prioritise pleasant, low-impact exercises like yoga, swimming, or walking that enhance flexibility, circulation, and general well-being without applying excessive pressure on your body.

Allergic Reactions

Look out for any possible allergic reactions to your stitches. If you observe any unexpected reactions, get in touch with your doctor immediately to seek advanced medical care. 

To help your healthcare provider decide the best course of action and ensure your safety and well-being, be ready to share specific information about any known allergies or past reactions you may have had.


Proper aftercare for stitches is essential to ensure a quick and fast recovery process. Follow the complete aftercare routine,  including keeping the area around the stitches clean, regularly monitoring for signs of infection, and taking prescribed medications from your doctor. By prioritising the aftercare for stitches, patients can boost the stitches’ healing process.


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