Any surgery that requires an incision will involve sutures or staples as the last step of the procedure. This helps close the incision and keep out infections. Taking care of your stitches can help limit scarring and discomfort and speed up the healing process. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Keep it clean and dry: For the first few days, use a washed wet cloth to clean the incision site. After a few days, you may start washing the area with soap and water unless advised else wise by your doctor. Ensure that you dry the skin thoroughly after washing it. Avoid baths that involve soaking the area in water. Also, avoid swimming. Do not use any powders, lotions, creams, deodorants etc on the wound site.
- Look out for signs of infections: Avoid activities that may involve exposing your wound to dirty water, chemicals, dust etc. This increases your risk of infections. Also look out for signs f infections such as redness, swelling, pus or bleeding, fever or increased pain from the wound. In case you notice such signs, consult your doctor at the earliest.
- Do not scratch: As it heals, your skin is likely to turn itchy. However, refrain from scratching so as to reduce chances of infections. Do not try and pull away from the scab but let it fall off on its own. This will also help limit scarring.
- Limit contact: Avoid wearing tight clothes or anything that sticks to the skin while your wound is healing. Instead have plenty of loose, comfortable clothes easily accessible. Also, do not take part in close contact sports such as football etc until the stitches have healed completely.
- Change your dressing regularly: A dressing should be changed as soon as it gets wet or soaked with blood or other body fluids. Wear clean medical gloves while changing a dressing. When putting on a new dressing do not touch the inside of the dressing or apply any creams on the stitches unless advised so by your doctor. In the case of removable stitches, the doctor will usually remove the stitches after a few days. DO not attempt to pull the stitches out on your own.
- Avoid exposing the wound to sunlight: New skin that forms as the incision heals is very sensitive to sunlight and gets sunburnt very easily. Limiting your exposure to sunlight can help reduce the effects of scarring.