Wound Care Instructions from the Emergency Department
Your cut has been cleaned and closed with sutures, also called stitches or with staples. Keep the area around your wound clean and dry until the stitches or staples are removed. Rest and raise the injured area until all the pain and swelling are gone.
Dressing and Cleaning
- If a dressing was placed over your wound, keep the dressing in place for 24 hours.
- If the bandage becomes dirty, wet, or develops a foul smell, change it.
- Wash the area with soap and water twice per day. Pat dry with a clean towel. Reapply antibiotic ointment after washing and drying.
- After 24 hours, you may keep the wound open to air. You do not need a dressing unless there is a good chance the wound may get dirty.
Suture or Staple Removal
- Sutures or staples should be removed in:
- 3 – 5 days for facial wounds.
- 7 – 10 days for the scalp.
- 10 – 14 for wounds anywhere else.
- 10 – 14 days for wounds over a joint.
- If steri-strips or Dermabond® (skin glue) has been applied, allow them to fall off on their own. Do not pick at them. Dermabond® should fall off in 5-10 days.
- Follow up with your primary care doctor or urgent care to have the suture or staple removed.
Seek Medical Care If
- You have an increase in redness, swelling or pain in the wound.
- There is a red line that goes up your arm or leg.
- Pus is coming from the wound.
- You develop a fever over 102°F.
- A foul smell is coming from the wound or dressing.
- The wound edges do not stay together.
- The wound is on your hand or foot and you find you can’t move a finger or toe.
- There is severe swelling around the wound causing pain, numbness or a change in color of the arm, hand, leg or foot.
After Care Instructions for Sutures or Staples
- To avoid or limit scarring, apply sun block (SPF 15-30) to the site when you are outside.
Aftercare Instructions for Dermabond® (Skin Glue)
- Do not soak the wound in water. Avoid swimming or soaking in a tub. Water running over the wound while you shower or bathe is fine.
- Avoid scrubbing the site. Gently pat dry.
- Avoid direct sunlight on the wound. Avoid tanning beds or lamps while Dermabond® is in place. After Dermabond® has fallen off, apply sun block (SPF 15-30) to avoid or limit scarring.
- Do not apply any products or lotions that contain petroleum to the wound treated with Dermabond® or the seal will break
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/24/2011
Copyright © 08/24/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7237
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