In a stitch? You can head to an urgent care center for that, since chances are you’ll get seen sooner, and experience the same quality of care. But what about afterwards, when your stitches are healing, and you’re not exactly sure what you should be doing next? Well, your doctors will give you aftercare instructions, but here are some tips and tricks to remember anyway.
Move Carefully (And Cleanly): This is an issue with kids, who want to get back into everything they were doing before they had to stop and get stitches. They want to go back outside and play, and usually play without any regard for their own stitches. Unfortunately, some play has to be restricted — it’s usually not a good idea to go swimming while you have healing stitches, for example. And if you’ve got an athlete in the family, think twice about letting them hit the baseball field — all the dirt and sand kicked up has serious potential to get in the wound. Overall, excessive motion can irritate and re-open the wound. It’s best to stick to gentle playtime, and perhaps bench your athlete for a game or two.
Pay Attention!: While it’s easy to stop play, it’s harder to stop work (and other everyday life circumstances.) Excessive motion can irritate and re-open a wound, but sometimes it’s hard to know what counts as excessive. You also need to be mindful of your clothes during the healing period. It sounds silly, but fabric can also catch at an open wound. If you’re someone who rolls up their sleeves a lot, you might instinctively do this — and then if the wound is on your arm, you could be placing direct pressure on it. Make sure to consider these things before a return to work or another activity, and look for looser clothes to wear. In addition, you can also cover the wound with a clean gauze pad, but depending on the location of the sound and your range of motion, this can be difficult!
Avoid Infection, Promote Healing: While the healing time for stitches can vary, the risk of infection is always something to battle. Keeping your stitches and wound dry initially is a prudent safeguard against infection. Keep them totally dry for the first day, then short, gentle showers can be taken. You’re still avoiding getting the wound soaked, but light wetness for pat cleaning the area is fine (as long as it’s dried gently, but thoroughly afterward). Antibiotic cream is recommended and will help heal the cut faster than without, even lessening the scar. Combined with this, be sure that when you reapply, you’re cleaning the area and replacing gauze that’s soaked through or dirty. Most of the healing process can be attributed to hygienic care and bodily awareness.