How to Stitch a Wound

A few tips from Dr. Luanne Freer, founder of the Everest Base Camp Medical Clinic.

   Photo: Sophy R. via Shutterstock

A closer look.

1. Attempt only if evacuation isn't an option. If you screw up, you could cause permanent tissue damage and a nasty infection.

2. Irrigate the wound with boiled water—you can use a plastic bag with a hole poked in it—and then scrub with soap.

3. Sterilize your needle and thread.

4. Start stitching (see sidebar image). You generally want the stitches spaced a quarter-inch from each other and from the skin edges, which should just barely touch. (The skin shouldn't pucker.)

5. Tie the suture with a surgeon's knot off to the side so it doesn't touch the wound.

6. Treat with antibacterial ointment and cover with a clean bandage.

Stitching a wound can be an effective last-ditch measure. But can you separate other cases of survival fact from fiction? Take our survival quiz to find out.

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