You should try to keep your stitches and any non-waterproof dressing dry for at least 48 hours after surgery.
When can I have a bath or shower after surgery?
You may be advised to wait 48 hours before showering and/or hair washing. A doctor or nurse will give you advice about this. Here is some general advice to follow:
- showering is preferable to bathing
- some waterproof dressings can be left in place in the shower
- do not put any bathing products, such as soap or shower gel, directly onto the wound
- do not worry if you splash the wound, but do not rub the area as this may cause pain and delay the healing process
Pat the wound gently with a clean towel after showering.
If you have a dressing over your stitches, avoid getting it wet.
Some dressings are waterproof, so you could wet your dressing lightly – for example, with the spray from a shower. However, you should not submerge your dressing under water. If you're not sure whether your dressing is waterproof, avoid getting it wet.
Do not remove the dressing unless you're advised to do so by a healthcare professional.
For more information, read our common health question: Is it better to have a bath or shower after surgery?
Keeping stitches dry
If you have been advised to keep your stitches dry, you could:
- cover your stitches when you have a shower, with a waterproof dressing – you may be able to use a rubber glove or plastic bag if they will cover your wound
- have a wash standing in a bath tub, using a cloth to clean yourself and avoiding your stitches
Dab your stitches dry with a clean towel after washing, even if the wound area did not get wet, to ensure the area is completely dry.
If your stitches get wet accidentally, simply dry the area immediately with a clean towel and make sure all the moisture around the stitches is soaked up.
After you've had stitches, you should be given some aftercare advice and contact details in case you're worried or have any questions. You could also call NHS 111 or a GP for advice if you do not have this information.
Read the answers to more questions about accidents, first aid and treatments.