How can I Remove Stitches? (with pictures)

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Medical tools that a doctor might use to place and remove stitches.
Medical tools that a doctor might use to place and remove stitches.

Asking how to remove stitches is answered with difficulty. In reality, you shouldn't remove stitches on your own because there is a risk of infection. Most importantly, you should never remove stitches from surgeries on your own. An infection at a surgery site can easily lead to severe infection or a wound reopening. Despite warnings, some people may at least want to remove the stitches from small cuts, and while this should be done under a doctor's care, there is a way to do it at home.

Tweezers are used to help remove stitches.
Tweezers are used to help remove stitches.

Stitches are usually one seam only, unlike sewing on cloth. Each stitch has to be removed individually. Most resemble a small tied knot that has pulled the skin together. Before planning to remove the stitches, gather together a few items. These include a pair of tweezers, nail or small scissors, rubbing alcohol, and possibly a magnifying glass to see the stitches. The tweezers and the scissors should be sterilized or soaked in alcohol prior to beginning, and the stitched area should be cleaned with alcohol and allowed to dry before you begin.

Sterile instruments should be used to remove stitches.
Sterile instruments should be used to remove stitches.

The first step is to cut the stitch. Start at one end of the stitched area, and cut only one stitch at a time. If you note excessive bleeding when you cut a stitch, it is not ready to be removed. You may note a tiny bit of blood, which is relatively common. You want to cut the stitch as close to the knot on one side of the knot instead of through it. Gently either thread the bottom part of the scissors underneath the stitch, or use only the top of the scissors, and be careful not to cut yourself!

Tweezers should be dipped in rubbing alcohol before being used to remove stitches.
Tweezers should be dipped in rubbing alcohol before being used to remove stitches.

When the stitch is cut, you can remove stitches by grasping the longer side with tweezers and pulling it out. If you did cut straight through the knot, all is not lost. Simply grasp a former knot point and pull through on one side. Then repeat on the other side. The last thing you want to do is pull any of the knotted part through the skin as this can cause injury or reopen a cut. After each stitch is removed, dab the area with alcohol before moving onto the next stitch. Repeat this step when you've removed them all.

A few don'ts should be observed when you remove stitches:

  • Don't remove your stitches prior to the recommended time for removal, usually ten to 14 days.
  • Don't remove surgical stitches.
  • Don't continue to remove stitches if a wound reopens and starts bleeding.
  • Don't, out of fear of embarrassment, neglect seeing the doctor if you've removed a stitch and the wound reopens.
Scissor tweezers may be used to remove stitches.
Scissor tweezers may be used to remove stitches.

If stitches drive you crazy — they can grow increasingly itchy as wounds heal — consider asking your doctor to place stitches that don't require removal. Dissolving stitches can be used in place of the standard stitches. Surgical glue is also a fine alternative to stitches. Neither of these methods will require you to remove your stitches at home, which can be risky and is definitely not medically recommended.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


I had a new doc. She said this was her third time stitching someone up. She tied the stitches so tight they went through the top layer of skin. The stitches are down in my finger about a 1/4 inch. What do I do now?


As a farmer in a rural area, I have always cleaned my own wounds and applied stitches myself, without a local, or had my wife stitch me up. Removing them is quite easy. Simply clean the area with alcohol (along with a small snips and plucker) then cut as close to the knot as possible and pull the stitch out by the knot.

If you waited long enough for the wound to heal, don't be afraid to pull a bit on your skin to expose the stitch more. If there is a lot of pain or redness, you shouldn't be taking them out, and should be worried about infection.


I kind of tried some self surgery after having a screw taken out of my ankle. It was only six stitches, but on the last one I accidentally cut the knot right off and the rest of the stitch went back in the hole, and my skin has already healed over the rest of the stitch and I can't find it! What do I do?


If you have stitches with a knot that is not going away, i.e., dissolving over time, then what you need to do is pick them out as far as they go using tweezers until you see two threads emerging out of the skin.

Cut one off and keep pulling the other and the bit you cut off will come out of the other end as you pull the whole thing out. It's actually a loop surgeons sew in initially before they stitch you up completely. Removal was painless for me as I did it slowly. Hope this helps.


So a week ago I busted my dome at a concert and I got eight stitches above and through my eyebrow. It has been extremely itchy and I'm ready for them to be out, and now the hospital gave me the wrong discharge information because it says I got the glue but it's obviously stitches, so I'm faced with the decision of waiting a few more days and paying someone a hundred bucks or doing it on my own today for a christmas present. What should I do?


I had abdominal surgery last year. I had a stitch that kept coming through the skin and the doctor's office kept pulling it out and cutting it off. Problem is, I pulled it and it was about 10 knots and I cut right behind them, which left two separate strands. Was this a mistake? I am thinking it should be OK. Surely adhesions will keep the stitches from coming all undone.


I've had stitches a hell of a lot of times. (don't ask)

Do not take them out yourself. Please, go to the doctor and get them taken out. Paying however much to get them taken out is nothing compared to the price of sepsis or septicemia. Trust me.


I have 13 stitches in my hand. It hurt like crap! Do not punch windows, even if you are really fast. You'll still get cut.


I had a wisdom tooth removed two days ago. My stitches are ones that dissolve, but when I was rinsing my mouth with salt water to bathe the wound, one fell out. Is there anything to be concerned about? Please help.


Last week I got 70 stitches on my leg. I'm thinking of taking them out myself once the 10 days is up as I don't feel like waiting at the hospital to get it done.


I got six stitches in my middle finger. i want to take them out in ten days so here's a few questions: A)how do you do it? B)does it hurt? and C)how do you use finger nail clippers?


I had a circumcision done that involved 12 stitches. I waited for two weeks to get an appointment with the doctor to have them removed. I finally pulled them out my self. These self dissolve stitches are a joke. They didn't dissolve in the two or three weeks time period, and I can't tell you how painful it was. The stitches had already started to be part of the healing of the skin. I used sharp pointy surgical scissors and tweezers. Next surgery, I'll make an appointment before the surgery to have them removed.


I'm 14 and i got a tooth pulled and the gum opened for the adult tooth that was growing above it, and today i got stitches where the left top canine is. i was tounging the string when it pulled out. will it be fine as long as I make sure no more get pulled out?


This is interesting. I had oral surgery three weeks ago and the stitches were removed a week afterward. Well now I am at work, offshore, will be here for over a month, and no way to get to a doctor. I just found a stitch hidden against a tooth that they missed. The gum is beginning to grow over the stitch, so I may have to remove it myself. Now to find suitable tools to remove it.


this has been very helpful. my husband got six stitches in his shin about a week ago. i am not about to wait another two hours at the ER so i am going to walgreens now and getting ready for surgery. I'm sure it'll be fine.


I got self dissolving stitches about two weeks ago, three on two separate areas on my scalp (six total). After a while it seems like one side of the stitches dissolved, and they itched like crazy, with the knot on the end of a string poking out.

The actual cut has sealed itself, though I have some scab on top, and I was just scratching near the area when a stitch pulled out, one thread leaving the body (weird sensation). I tested another stitch and it came out the same way. There was a small amount of cell fluid leaking from the hole, but that sealed up quickly.

So now my stitches are out, a little ahead of schedule, but the discomfort and itching are gone. The doctor said two weeks to heal up, so I suspect they would have shed without a light tug soon enough, but this doesn't seem to have harmed me.


is it bad that i took one out myself without like cleaning it or anything? i just kept on knocking it and found out how it was tied and i just couldn't stand it in much longer (it was also really loose because of the knocking), but it doesn't look infected or anything and my other stitches aren't annoying me or anything.


i just got 23 stitches in my arm. It hurts.


I've just done four or five stitches on the rear of my head. It is not painful. They prescribed ibuprofen 400 mg tablets for one week. Stitches removal after after one week only! I've bled a a lot. Sick leave till March 7. Dubai


my episiotomy stitches didn't dissolve for almost two months and i had to remove it with a doctor a while ago. but the problem is, when i try to touch inside, i feel some were remaining yet it is just tiny. what can i do? i am so worried.


I had three stitches on the outside of my lip and one on the inside. i just grabbed tweezers and nail clippers, put them in a cup of hydrogen peroxide for a few minutes. I wiped the stitches with a q-tip with hydrogen peroxide.

I very slightly pulled the stitch just to make sure the knot was inside the healing cut, then gently placed the nail clippers under the string and cut, then pulled the string out with the tweezers. Like it says above, just make sure you don't try pulling any part of the knot through the wound.

Afterwards, i wiped the cut with hydrogen peroxide then a few minutes later i put on some neosporin lip balm on. (If the cut is anywhere but your lip just put on some regular neosporin to make sure it properly heals. Good luck, it shouldn't be a problem.


Where I'm from, having your stitches taken out is part of whatever you've had done when they put them in. They tell you to come back after 10-12 days, or to go to your local community nurse, and you don't pay any extra at all.

You probably paid nothing but a small fixed sum to be patched up in the first place, either. That's what we pay taxes for over here, so we don't have to worry about such things.


This is the most retarded thing I've ever heard. Never use hydrogen peroxide on stitches. That's what causes keloid scars and the doctor tells you not to use hydrogen peroxide. I know this because my mom is an interventional radiologist and my sister is a nurse and I got six stitches two days ago and they told me.


i got six stitches on saturday night and removed them myself the following friday afternoon, with finger nail clippers and tweezers. every person and every wound is different. use your common sense. you can tell if you need a doctor to remove them or not.


If you are careful (or have someone careful help you), there is normally no reason you cannot remove a few stitches yourself at home and save $50-$100 for a doctor visit. If you have lots of stitches (>15), and it is one continuous stitch, you might be better off going to the doctor, especially if it was a large incision.


The stitches that dissolve take time to dissolve (a lot more than 10-14 days, more like 2-3 months), so many doctors prefer to use regular stitches on the skin surface because they can be easily removed, so that the patient doesn't have to wait such a long time for the stitches to dissolve.


Do not remove your stitches on your own, specially on your face. Even doctors screw it up sometimes. The thread may cut the skin itself if pulled incorrectly, creating a new scar. Have *only* a cosmetic surgeon do it, who has the most experience.

Many other mistakes could be made by you or a a doctor who is not a specialist. This article is not talking about specific dangers of doing it on your own!


Earlier this week I was referred to a specialist to have two harmless but unsightly cysts removed: one from my upper right arm at my bicep, and one on the top of my head. The referral was made specifically because of the scalp cyst; the concern was excess of blood loss from my scalp compared to the cyst on my arm, which is most understandable.

I suspect the specialist was either having a bad day or was impatient, because although the stitching on my head (the first one completed) was conducted with fair precision, my right bicep was somewhat butchered - although the area was numb, I felt his scalpel slip and slice my arm a bit, and the skin's been bunched together and looks somewhat bulbous. He said nothing, of course, but I wanted it done and over with and said nothing either.

I'm not at all convinced this fellow is incompetent, and I keep the necessary tools on hand for other physical issues which I shall use to remove these sutures myself. This is why I despise medical professionals who believe their training (and the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in sponsored education that seem to equal 'expertise' on the parts of these self-proclaimed gods) supersedes the safety of their patients.

Therefore, I'm choosing to remove the stitches myself, after which I'm slapping on some Polysporin and taping gauze to reduce the chance of infection and encourage the healing process (which I've already done twice). I have never experienced issues after performing such minor operations on myself.

Just want to let you guys know how foolish these professionals make actual experts seem. Thank you very much for some most informative data, too.


about one month ago I had part of a slipped disc removed, and was stitched up as you would expect with dissoving you're not going to believe this but I asked my girlfriend to remove some dried blood cause it kept catching on my clothes and was uncomfortable...but she misunderstood what I said and cut the loop of the stitch (the stitch looked like fishing line) line above where I said with some scissors so now I have what lookes like 2 pieces of stitch sticking out of my skin not connected. what the hell do I do ??????


I got 16 stitches on my knee 8 days ago and I have a hockey tournament all the way in Calgary in 5 days. Does anyone know if I can play by then? (I'm the goalie)


I cut out my labodomy stitches. It was nice. Everything is nice.


I had surgery 21 days ago and have a 6 inch scar on my arm with 23 stitches. The surgeon was supposed to take the stitches out after 2 weeks but he went on vacation and I couldn't get an appointment with another physician in his office and couldn't afford a visit to the ER. I am so angry at the *neglect* of his office staff (not willing to squeeze me in or cooperate in any way)and do not want to go back to this doctor but the stitches are *still in!!*

My arm is trying to heal and the stitches are starting to disappear-my skin is healing *over* them. I want to take out the stitches on my own now but am afraid of infection.

What the heck should I do now? My friend gave me special surgical scissors to take out the stitches or I could wait 2 more days and see this jerk~who is finally back from vacation on Friday.


i just got 10 stitches on my kneecap four days ago. how long is it before i can run again and when will my stitches be removed by the hospital?


Just read this article and after reading the advice I've just taken out 4 stitches on the inside of my index finger using nothing but nail clippers.

The way I did it was to cut the stitch at the furthest point from the knot and then pull the knot quickly. It was painless, I didn't feel a thing.


2 months ago I had stitches in the back of my head. The stitches were removed, but now I find a dime sized red raised bump that is very sore where the stitches were. Is it possible another stitch is still there? I am on vacation. Would heat pad help, or ice? Should I try to find another doctor?


I took out my own episiotomy stitches twice because they were so aggravating (talk about a challenge, too. LOL!) They were the dissolving kind, but they didn't dissolve, and after a week and a half, I took them out. Not painful at all. It does help if you have a pair of the really sharp-pointed surgical scissors, though. I can't imagine trying to do it with regular scissors or nail clippers.


i cut my hand open and had to have it stitched back up. they advised me that the stitching would dissolve by themselves and most of them have. i have one that still remains and there is no knot. i can see a tiny loop that comes out and re enters the skin. looks like a ingrown hair. but its not hair and looks more like a fishing line. it has been about 4-5 weeks since my hand was stitched.. can any 1 advise me accordingly, on what to do?


I have 14 stitches on my forearm (outside) that I want to remove. I had them put in while on vacation and don't want to pay the $100 for an office visit to remove them! How bad does it hurt and how many days should I wait before I try this? I am a sissy.


You can't use dissolvable sutures or the glue over a joint (such as a knee) because more strength is needed over an area that moves.


I bite my fingernails, and I just got cut on my I ended up chewing threw the knot on my stitches then pulling them out. Not really smart but hey :p


its fairly simple. i used baby nail clippers just now to remove two stitches in my wife's lip. they were on the corner of her mouth and very very tiny. get some tweezers and pull up and slide the knot to one side to expose the line to cut, using the baby nail clippers(make sure they are new or sharp) snip the line under the knot. then pull em out. easy peasy lemon squeezy!


good luck getting your stitches removed. i had about four stitches on the side of my wrist as a result of an injury in a car accident. my dad took them out for me (no, he's not a trained medical professional!). i think he was being too cheap to take me back to the doctor! it didn't hurt, and had healed nicely, so it wasn't a big deal. i don't know if i'd recommend it for all injuries, and now that i'm a parent, i don't know if i'd do it to my children!


I recently had to get 6 stitches in my knee. I have to go back this Sunday to get them out., They are driving me insane, and am obviously on a "how to remove your own stitches" website because the thought has crossed my mind. I am just curious why they do not just use the glue, or the ones that dissolve in all cases. It said you could request them, but shouldn't Doctors just offer them? This whole ordeal is a first for me so I guess I will know next time, (eek or not!) But for now I guess I will enjoy the hot ER Doctor take stitches out of my hairy knee that can't be shaved at the moment, and just hope he has seen something more grotesque before me.. lol

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    • Medical tools that a doctor might use to place and remove stitches.
      Medical tools that a doctor might use to place and remove stitches.
    • Tweezers are used to help remove stitches.
      Tweezers are used to help remove stitches.
    • Sterile instruments should be used to remove stitches.
      Sterile instruments should be used to remove stitches.
    • Tweezers should be dipped in rubbing alcohol before being used to remove stitches.
      Tweezers should be dipped in rubbing alcohol before being used to remove stitches.
    • Scissor tweezers may be used to remove stitches.
      Scissor tweezers may be used to remove stitches.