Pain Relief for Stitches

Patients healing from a skin injury serious enough to require stitches often complain of itching and pain associated with the stitches. Although discomfort is a natural and expected part of the healing process, it can cause a distraction from other activities and make the recovery period seem much longer. To provide relief from the pain of stitches, there are several home remedies that may prove effective if done under a physician’s general supervision.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Itch Relief

Stitches often itch very badly while they are healing. Sometimes people will scratch the area so severely that they will reopen the wound and it will have to be restitched. Purchase over-the-counter itch medication and apply it lightly to relieve the itching. There are several available at your local pharmacy, including band-aid itch gel and Benadryl itch stick. Apply these to the wound several times a day to stop the itching.

Topical Anesthetic

A topical anesthetic--in spray or cream form--will temporarily relieve the itching and pain by numbing the affected area. Purchase a topical anesthetic from your local pharmacy. They come in several varieties, including Lanacane (a numbing spray) and Neosporin (an antibacterial and anesthetic cream).

Prescription Medication

Ask your physician about obtaining a prescription for a pain medication. The doctor will prescribe several days' worth of medication, with duration and strength determined in part by whether the drug is habit-forming. If you follow the directions on the prescription, the drug will keep the nerve endings dull so the pain is less intense. The medication that will probably be prescribed is Tylenol with codeine or Motrin 600. If you have allergies to either acetaminophen or ibuprofen, inform your doctor before seeking treatment.


The pain of the stitches could be caused by swelling to the injury area. Treat this swelling and discomfort with a trade-off of hot and cold compresses. Place a hot compress on the injured area for 20 minutes followed by a cold compress for the next 20 minutes. Alternate this several times a day to relieve the pain and swelling caused by your stitches.


Notify your physician if your stitches become hot to the touch or if you notice a yellowish discharge from the wound or smell a foul odor--these are signs of infection that require immediate medical treatment. Do not treat your stitches without first consulting your physician.