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Facial Cut Fixed With Stitches: How to Care for Your Child

The health care provider checked your child's facial cut and decided that stitches were needed to bring the two sides of the skin together. Some kinds of stitches need to be removed, but others dissolve on their own. Most cuts will leave a small scar. A healing cut can get infected, so the health care provider cleaned it carefully. You can help to prevent infection by taking good care of the cut as it heals.

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  • Keep the wound dry for 24 hours. You can gently wash the skin around the wound with a clean damp cloth but don't rub the stitches. Pat dry with a clean towel.

  • Don't soak the skin. Your child should not take a bath or go swimming until the stitches are removed or dissolve.

  • You can give medicine for pain if your health care provider says it's OK. Use these medicines exactly as directed:

    • acetaminophen (such as Tylenol® or a store brand)OR

    • ibuprofen (such as Advil®, Motrin®, or a store brand). Do not give to babies under 6 months old.

  • If the health care provider recommends, spread a thin coat of antibiotic ointment over the wound each day, then cover with a bandage.

  • Check the wound every day to make sure the red area is not getting bigger. Some mild redness around the wound is normal.

  • Your child should not pick or scratch at the scab that forms over the wound.

  • If your child has stitches that will need to be removed, take your child to your health care provider as directed.

  • Leaving the stitches in place too long may cause more scarring.

  • Make sure your child's tetanus vaccine is up to date.

  • When you or your child apply sunscreen, be sure to put it on the scar. This will help protect the scar from burning and prevent it from getting darker.

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  • Your child has redness, warmth, or swelling around the wound. This could be the start of an infection.

  • Red streaks are coming from the wound.

  • Pus is draining from the wound.

  • The edges of the wound start to separate.

  • The stitches have started to come out or the wound is opening up.

  • Your child develops pain or a fever.

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The wound:

  • starts bleeding and doesn't stop bleeding after light pressure is applied

  • opens up

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What happens as a cut on the face heals? Stitches hold the edges of a cut together while it heals and help protect the wound from infection. Slight redness or itchiness around the wound is normal.

After 4–5 days, the wound will be completely healed and the stitches will be removed or have dissolved on their own.

Why does a cut get a scar? When the deeper layer of skin is injured, the body uses a protein (collagen) to help fill in the cut area. The filled-in area becomes a scar. A scar will form even if a cut is fixed with stitches. Over time some scars fade or get smaller.

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