Stitches may help wounds and tissue heal properly, but they don't always heal smoothly; they can leave behind scars, sometimes slight, sometimes severe. You can apply creams and oils to fade scars, but the best thing to do is to prevent them by caring for stitches carefully.

Damp stitches may loosen or tighten as they dry, causing the wound to heal improperly. Keep the stitches dry for about three days. Cover them with plastic wrap in the bath or shower, and pat them dry with a clean towel if they do get wet.

Wash the stitched area gently after 48 to 72 hours. To help prevent a thick scab from forming (which in turn helps minimize scarring), soak a soft cloth in warm water and dab away any debris that has crusted around the stitches. Dry the area thoroughly with a dry, clean towel.

An antibiotic ointment helps keep away infection and lets the skin heal more smoothly. Using a cotton swab, apply a thin layer of mild ointment and let it soak in. Do not cover the stitches, as this may trap moisture in them and cause an infection.

After the stitches are removed, treat light scarring with vitamin E capsules. Snip off the tip of the capsule with scissors and squeeze the ointment onto the scar. Stretch an adhesive bandage over the scar. The ointment softens skin while the bandage gives it a flat surface to grow against.