Neurosurgical wound care

  • A wound is a break in the skin caused by an incision (opening made during surgery or a medical procedure). 

    Caring for your child’s wound is important to promote healing, avoid infection and minimize scarring. 

    Protect the wound

    Always wash your hands before and after touching your child's wound. This is the most important thing you can do to prevent an infection. 
    You can wash your hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub.

    Wound Care at home:

    • Keep the dressing clean and dry, if the dressing becomes soiled or the wound is exposed re-apply clean new dressing, which will be supplied prior to discharge or can be purchased at your local pharmacy\
    • Leave the wound dressing in place for 10 days, keeping the dressing dry and in-tact.
    • When showering or bathing your child, avoid wetting the surgical site and dressing until day 10 post-surgery.

    Dressing removal and change   

    When changing the dressing:

    • Always wash your hands before and after changing the dressing.
    • On day 10 post-surgery, an adhesive removal wipe can be used to gently remove the dressing. Start from the outside edges of the dressing.
    • A small amount of oozing blood can occur. Monitor site oozing, which is expected to resolve and is usually not a cause for concern. 

    Once your child's dressing has been removed:

    • Their hair/back can be washed and the incision site gently massaged.
    • The wound sutures may be all under the skin (subcuticular) and not visible or may be through the skin and visible on the surface.]
    • For those wounds with visible sutures we recommend wiping the suture line with sterile alcohol swabs morning and evening for two days.
    • After two days, wash the area well daily to help the sutures dissolve and remove any remaining sutures.
    • It’s important that your child avoids itching or touching the wound until the site is fully healed.

    When to see a doctor 

    It is normal for your child’s wound to appear slightly red or raised in appearance. The edges of the wound should come together neatly and there should be no open areas.

    All wounds are at risk of developing an infection. To ensure any infection can be treated as soon as possible, it is important to watch the following signs of wound infection:

    • The skin around the wound becomes red and may be hot and sore to touch. 
    • A pimple or yellow crust forms on the wound.
    • The wound has an unpleasant odour.
    • Clear fluid leaking from surgical site. 
    • Your child develops a fever, confusion, vomiting, severe headache or unwell. 
    • Increasing or fluctuating swelling under the wound.

    Any signs of infection or fluid leaking from the wound requires an immediate hospital re-view from Neurosurgery. 

    Key points:

    Your child should not engage in contact sports, swimming or any other activities which could involve a head or spinal injury for the first six weeks (until their six-week re-view) weeks unless advised by your neurosurgery consultant.

    • Keep the dressing dry for 10 days.
    • Protect the wound from bumps, pressure and sun.
    • Observe for signs of infection and contact neurosurgery via hospital switchboard if an infection develops
    • It is not recommended to soak the wound – such as long baths or swimming until the wound has fully healed at around six weeks.

    Common questions our doctors are asked. 

    If the wound is covered by a dressing, how will I know if it is becoming infected?

    Signs of infection include the surrounding skin becoming red and hot to touch, tracking of the redness up or down the surgical site, your child feeling generally unwell, developing a fever, increased pain and exudate/fluid coming from the wound.


This information 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 easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.