Kids Health Info

Stitches and glue care

  • Your child's cut (wound) may need to be either stitched (sutured) or glued. A special glue (such as dermabond) is used in hospitals and medical clinics to keep the edges of the skin together. It has the same effect as stitches and is used on superficial (not very deep) wounds and only takes about a minute to apply and dry.

    There are many different stitch (suture) types and techniques. Your doctor will advise you whether your child has stitches that need to be removed. Sometimes dissolvable stitches are used.

    Your child's cut will be red, tender and swollen straight after stitching or gluing. This should ease as the wound starts to heal in around 2-3 days. All wounds, whether sutured or glued, will leave a scar. Initially the scar may be red or purple in colour and will fade to light pink or white or nearly invisible over time, this may take up to a year.

    Treatment

    Your child may need some simple pain relief (such as paracetamol) in the first couple of days following an injury. Speak to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist for more information.

    Care at home

    Stitches

    • Keep the wound dry for the first 24 hours; this will allow the skin to come together and start the healing process. Moisture will slow the healing.
    • Try not to let your child pick any scabs, crusts or dressings from the wound area. They will come away on their own, once the wound has completely healed.
    • Take care when bathing your child and do not get the affected area wet if possible. 
    • Do not let your child go swimming until after the stitches have been removed and the wound is healed.
    • If the stitches come out and the wound is open (gaping) or it has been less than 48 hours since the wound has been stitched- See your local doctor or go to the emergency department.

    Dissolvable stitches

    • Dissolve (disappear) by themselves and do not need to be removed. This may take up to two weeks, or longer in some cases.
    • It is important to keep the area dry for 24 hours and to take care not to get the wound wet while giving your child a bath or shower for at least 5 days. You will be informed if your child has dissolvable sutures.

    Glue

    • Keep the wound dry.Your child may have a shower or a brief bath after 24 hours but do not soak or scrub the wound until fully healed. Pat the wound dry with a towel after giving your child a shower or bath. Do not let your child go swimming or have a soak in the bath for 7 days.
    • Do not let your child rub, scratch or pick at the glue or the wound. If adhesive tape (such as Steri-Strips) has been applied over the glue allow it to fall off naturally- do not pick it off as this may cause the wound to open. The glue may take up to three weeks to completely fall off your child's wound. 
    • Do not use creams or ointments over the glue or near the Steri-strips. This may cause the glue to soften and come off.
    • The glue is see through so you can see the wound.

    When to see a doctor

    • If the wound becomes swollen and/or red around the edges and the redness spreads to the surrounding skin or is hot to the touch.  
    • Your child develops a fever after 48 hours of having the stitches or glue applied.
    • If the glue has come off or a stitch/stitches fall out and the wound is open (gaping) or bleeding.
    • If the wound smells or there is pus (this is usually yellow or green in colour and may indicate an infection).
    • If you are worried or have other concerns see your local doctor.
    • See your local doctor to get the stitches removed (unless an appointment has been made for your child to return to hospital to get their stitches removed). Your emergency doctor or nurse will advise you on when to do this.The time for removal of stitches varies depending on where on the body they are but is usually between 5-10 days. It is important to get your child's stitches taken out on this day as leaving them in for longer may lead to unnecessary scarring.

    Key points to remember

    • Keep the wound dry
    • Do not allow your child to pick or scratch at the stitches/glue.
    • See your local doctor to get the stitches removed (unless other arrangements have been made) in the time specified.

    Individual information

    Your child has had:

    • Sutures. See your local doctor to have these out on     /    /
    • Dissolvable sutures. See your doctor if these have not dissolved in ____ days.
    • Glue

     

    Developed by the RCH Emergency Department. First published April 2008. Last updated August 2013

Disclaimer
This is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easily understood. The Royal Children's Hospital accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in the handouts.