FAQ: How To Work, Play, and Wash After Getting Stitches

Walk in medical clinics are a common place to go for stitches after receiving a nasty cut, but you may have questions about how to care for your stitches after the fact. You should always first ask the doctors caring for your injury for instructions on healing properly. However, here are some common questions about living with stitches while they're healing.

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  • Play Clean, Play Carefully: "Can I go outside and play?" Stitches are common among children who receive cuts while playing. While the stitches are still in, it's important to keep an eye on the wounded area while they're playing. It might bum you out a little (your child, too), but swimming isn't recommended nor are beaches or any place that that risks dirt entering the wound. Excessive motion can cause potential re-injury and should be considered before returning to playtime.

  • Stitches Itch! While this is more a concern with children, adults will sometimes forget, too, and that scratch bring can bring infection from dirty hands or cause the wound to open. Covering with gauze and antibiotic ointment is good for avoiding this.

  • Pay Attention While You Work: Just because play may have to be on hold, work doesn't stop when you have stitches healing. Wearing day-to-day clothes with stitches can cause unwanted problems snagging the sutures and reopening the wound. To be sure this won't happen, having a clean gauze pad over the stitched area before getting into your clothes will do the trick. Depending on where your wound is located, movement can be awkward. Being conscious of your movements will prevent your own motion from opening the wound unintentionally.

  • Avoiding Infection and Healing: One of the most common walk in visits after initial treatment is because of infection and wounds healing improperly. 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 stitch healing process can be attributed to hygienic care and bodily awareness.

Walk in medical clinics employ some 20,000 practicing physicians for good reason. Not every injury is so severe it requires the emergency room, but treatment is needed nonetheless. Their advice is paramount to the healing process. They know the appropriate steps to take and will help you if you're unsure. Stitches are minor, but not without their complications. Follow instructions and, before you know it, that cut will seem like it never happened.