Caring for Stitches

No picture today. You want to see stitches, you google that on your own time.

I’ve had stitches five times in my life: once for having wisdom teeth pulled, twice for skin moles, and twice for being a reckless child. They are not fun and can be tricky to take care of until they can be removed—except the dissolvable stitches, which just kind of go away on their own, but trust me, they have drawbacks too.

First off, stitches are needed when the injury won’t be able to heal normally on its own. So little scraps and nicks are fine, but that time the knife slipped and caught that flap of skin between my thumb and finger was not. If the injury is half a centimetre or longer than an inch, you should see a medical professional to get their opinion. If the injury just looks really bad and you can see bone, tendons, or other things you should not see, you’re probably going to need stitches. Also, if you can’t get the bleeding to stop, or the cut happens to be on a joint, go see someone about getting some stitches.

Now that that’s out of the way, it’s important to keep your stitches dry and clean. This makes bathing kind of a pain and also means no lotions, creams, or anything unless your doctor says so. Ask about painkillers too. If the bandages covering your stitches gets wet, change them. And just like all injuries, don’t pick at it; you’ll make it worse.

Once the first 24 hours have passed, or your doctor gives the okay, you can wash the area, but be gentle. But no soaking; no baths, no pools, and no dishwashing in the sink without gloves. And gently pat the area dry, don’t rub.

Chances are there’s going to be a scar. It might fade over time or it might not. Regardless, you might want to practice the tale (lie) you’re going to give when people ask you about it.

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