Getting a stitch done for a skin cut is a nightmare for any kid. Understand that the sight of a deep wound oozing with blood and the pain felt by your child is frightening already. What can be more traumatic for the child is the thought of a needle that has to pass through several times across his skin during stitching. Hence, some mothers have to wrestle with their retaliating child just to get the stitch done.
A child’s smooth cooperation during a stitch procedure is not impossible to achieve. It helps a lot to explain to the child not only the procedure, but more importantly the reasons why he or she should have a stitch.
Stitches are loops of sterile strings that doctors use to join the edges of a cut on your child’s skin. It’s practically like sewing a piece of cloth. It is done for lacerated wounds, avulsed wounds, and other wounds which are cut deep regardless of the severity of the bleed. Simply put, any wound in which the edges of the skin are gaping warrants a stitch. If the edges of the wound are not touching each other, healing will be delayed because it will take more new natural skin tissues to fill in the gaps of the wound. The consequence is that, the longer the wound is left open, the higher the risk for bacteria and germs to enter through it. Once infection sets in, bacteria can enter the blood stream and spread throughout the body.
It should be emphasized to your child that the procedure will not hurt him. The doctor will first numb the wound by applying the area with gel or cream or by giving a small shot of anesthetic, so he doesn’t feel pain. Then the doctor will start cleaning the wound with sterile water, which is squirted into the cut to remove any dirt and wash away harmful germs. After it is cleaned, the doctor will apply a disinfectant or antiseptic (e.g. betadine) to the center and edges of the wound.
Using a very tiny sterile needle, the doctor will sew the cut together and the suture (like a thread) will pull the edges of the wound closer to each other. At this time, because the area is numbed, your child should only feel a tug as the doctor pulls the suture.
Once the stitch is finished, the wound will be covered with a sterile bandage and should be kept dry for 1 to 2 days. Change the bandage as needed. Instruct your child not to pull or tug the suture even if they the wound gets itchy as it heals. If the doctor uses a non-absorbable suture like silk and nylon, he will ask you to come back after 5 to 7 days to remove the suture. Removal of the suture will not hurt and will take less time than it does to put them in.
If your child’s stitch has become popped or torn, or if his cut is red, hot, swollen, or oozing with pus or blood, bring him back to the doctor. The cut might have become infected and needed further appropriate management.
Getting a stitch done should not be a horrifying experience for your child, much more a traumatic event in your child’s life. It is helpful to deal with his fears first by telling him the right words in the right way, so that he will understand why there is no reason to fear stitches. And with understanding comes the child’s full cooperation which is necessary for a faster wound healing.