Stitches have many advantages once they are used to close the surgical wounds, stitches can stop profuse bleeding and hold the opposing edges of skin for proper healing. Stitches also help the cuts to heal with minimal scarring, also preventing the wound to become infected. On the other side, this kind of closure also comes with a baggage of discomfort, although minor. One of the discomfort is itchy stitches or the itchy sensation on the skin around the surgical stitches.
Why the stitches itch?
The first thing you should know is why do those stitches become itch. Itching around the stitches is common and very normal because it is a good sign of healing process. Skin cells begin to grow soon on the cut edge and at the same time, those cells grow the new nerve cells. The nerve cells begin to produce itching sensation in and around the skin as the thread of stitches irritate them. Responding to the new cellular skin generation, chemical called histamine is released around the stitches and causes itching around the stitches.
In many cases, sometime the itchy sensation drives you crazy. The followings are several things you can do to relieve the itchy sensation and several things that have to be considered about the itchy sensation :
Rule Out an Allergic Reaction
The first thing that you have to do if you experience the itching sensation after an operation is rule out an allergic reaction to any new product you are using. The itchy sensation may be caused by an allergic reaction to medications, herbs, bandages, tape, and other products that are used after surgery.. If this case is happened to you, for example you have an allergic reaction with the dressing tape, ask your surgeon if you can replace the dressing tape with paper tape. And your doctor may prescribe steroid ointment to be applied at the affected site of skin.
Do not rubbing at the Incision Area
Of course, this is a lot easier to say than do, as many patients actually unconsciously rub at the incision site because they can’t resist the itchy sensation and want to scratch at the area. It is important to be remembered that manipulating the incision site in any way can result in infection or a re-opening wound. However, you should follow proper cleaning and bandaging instructions, including washing the wound with antibacterial soap and applying fresh gauze; at this time, you should check for any signs of infection. If an infection is present, contact your surgeon immediately.
Take an Anti-histamine
As a response to the wound that is caused during surgery, the body begins to naturally produce histamines; this is, in part, responsible for the itchy feeling at the incision site. The use of an anti-histamine, in oral form, can reduce itchiness. However, you should consult to your doctor before use any kind of anti-histamines to be sure that they are safe for use after surgery.
Avoid Anti-itch Creams Until the Incision is Completely Closed
Anti-itch creams will temporarily relieve feelings of itchiness. But you should be cautious about their use on healing incisions. Again, if you use these products too early while the wound is still open, you will increase the risk of infection. Anti-itch creams may be used after you sure (based on your doctor judgement) that the incision is closed.
Keep the Hygiene
Regularly clean the itchy area with antiseptic solution (that recommended by your doctor) will help to reduce itching. It will prevent crust and scabs to develop around the stitches. They are responsible for stinging and prickly sensation.
In several cases, any women complain of itching and pricking sensation in the genital area after episiotomy. Sitting in a warm bath tub for few minutes, also applying aloe vera gel will alleviate the discomfort.
Icing or Compressing
Compress the skin around the itchy stitches. After removing the dressing and cleaning the area with antiseptic solution, you can place a clean cloth which contains few pieces of ice cubes on the discomforting area. Place it for 2 to 5 minutes only. Clean and dry the area once again with anti septic solution before covering it with the dressing material.
In the end of this discussion, you have to note –again– that some of the relieving process that have been mention above about the itchy sensation on the stitches still need the professionals’ recommendation.