(HealthDay News) -- You may need stitches to help close an open wound and help reduce scarring.

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers these suggestions to care for stitches:

  • Wait one to three days before getting the area wet.
  • Gently wash off any crust that forms and accumulating dirt.
  • If the wound seeps clear yellow fluid, you may need to apply a bandage.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment if your doctor recommends doing so.
  • If your doctor approves, wash and rebandage the area after 24 hours.
  • Keep the area raised above your heart to help reduce pain and swelling.