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Emergency Department Discharge Instructions

Cut with stitches or staples

Emergency Care Discharge Instructions

Instruction summary

How to take care of your cut:
  1. It is important to keep the stitches or staples dry for 24-48 hours.
  2. Once you have taken off the bandage, take a look at the wound. It is normal for there to be a little redness around the wound, however, the redness should not be growing. Every day, take off the bandage and look at the wound to see if the redness is spreading. If it is spreading, this may be a sign of an infection.
  3. You can apply Polysporin (or the generic version of Polysporin) once a day after you take a look at the wound.

Many people wonder whether they should keep their wound covered or expose it to the air. Research has shown that the wound will heal slightly faster if it is kept covered.

When should my stitches come out?

The stitches or staples should come out in five days if they are on your face, eight to 10 days for most other cuts, and 14 days for cut that is over a joint (like over the elbow, the wrist, the knee, etc). For cuts on the face, you can ask the doctor to put on some steri-strips (a type of thin bandage) on the wound once the stitches are removed, since they have to come out early (five days) and the wound will still be weak.

If your wound starts to bleed at home, cover it and apply pressure for a full five minutes.

If the cut is large, keeping the area elevated as much as you can will speed up recovery. For example, if the cut is on your forearm then raise your arm as much as you can (like you are the queen and about to wave at your subjects). If the cut is on your leg, prop your leg up on a table or chair when you are sitting down.

Reasons to return to the ER
  1. New fever (≥38.0 °C or 100.4 °F)
  2. Signs of infection: Spreading redness around the wound or pus formation. Either see your family doctor within the next few days, or if you can’t see them quickly go to a walk-in clinic or return to the ER.