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If your child has had a cut, their wound may need to be either stitched (sutured) or glued.
There are many different stitch types and techniques. Sometimes dissolvable stitches are used, and sometimes stiches that need to be removed are used. Your doctor will advise you if your child has stitches that need to be removed.
A special glue (e.g. Dermabond) is another type of treatment used in hospitals and medical clinics to keep the edges of the skin together. It has the same effect as stitches, and only takes about a minute to apply and dry. The glue is transparent so you can see the wound.
Your child's cut will be red, tender and swollen straight after stitching or gluing. These symptoms should clear as the wound starts to heal (after about two to three days).
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, or see our fact sheet
Pain relief for children.
All wounds, whether stitched or glued, will leave a scar. Initially the scar may be red or purple in colour, and will fade to light pink, white or nearly invisible over time. This may take up to a year.
It’s important to protect your child's wound from the sun by keeping it covered. To prevent the scar from darkening, use sunscreen on the healed wound for at least 12 months.
Take your child to see your GP if there are signs the wound is becoming infected. These include:
Also see a GP if:
If your child’s stitches are not dissolvable, you will need to make an appointment to see your GP to get the stitches removed (an appointment may have been made when the stiches were put in). Your emergency doctor or nurse will advise you when to do this. The time for removal of
stitches varies depending on where on the body they are, but it is usually between five to 10 days. It is important to get your child's stitches taken out on the correct day, as leaving them in for longer may lead to unnecessary scarring.
What can I do to stop my child scratching at her stitches?
When wounds are healing, it is natural for them to become
itchy. If your child is old enough to understand, explain that if they scratch
they will prevent the cut from healing properly, and that scratching might make
the scar worse. For young children and babies, wearing mittens may help prevent
them from scratching.
Are staples ever used in children?
Although they are commonly used in adults, staples are
rarely used on children. They may be used for larger cuts. If staples are used
on your child, caring for the staples is similar to caring for non-dissolvable
stitches. A GP will be able to remove your child's staples.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Emergency department. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
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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.