Step 11: Instrucing the patient

Wound care will vary, but in general, patients should be told to keep the area clean and dry. The wound may be gently cleaned with plain water and dressings that have become wet or dirty should be changed. If there is significant swelling, elevation of the affected area will improve patient comfort.

Instructions for suture removal need to be given in each case. The following guidelines for suture removal are generally accepted:

  • Face: 4-5 days
  • Scalp and trunk: 7-10 days
  • Arms and legs: 10-14 days
  • Joints: 14 days
The most common and important complication for patients to be aware of is infection. Signs and symptoms of infection include increased pain, swelling, redness, fever or red streaks spreading proximally. Patients should be cautioned about the potential for infection and encouraged to return if any signs of infection are noted.