Can sutures get wet? Prospective randomised controlled trial of wound management in general practice

BMJ. 2006 May 6;332(7549):1053-6. doi: 10.1136/bmj.38800.628704.AE. Epub 2006 Apr 24.


Objective: To compare standard management of keeping wounds dry and covered with allowing wounds to be uncovered and wet in the first 48 hours after minor skin excision.

Design: Prospective, randomised controlled, multicentre trial testing for equivalence of infection rates.

Setting: Primary care in regional centre, Queensland, Australia.

Participants: 857 patients randomised to either keep their wound dry and covered (n = 442) or remove the dressing and wet the wound (n = 415).

Results: The incidence of infection in the intervention group (8.4%) was not inferior to the incidence in the control group (8.9%) (P < 0.05). The one sided 95% confidence interval for the difference of infection rates was infinity to 0.028.

Conclusion: These results indicate that wounds can be uncovered and allowed to get wet in the first 48 hours after minor skin excision without increasing the incidence of infection.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occlusive Dressings*
  • Postoperative Care / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Skin Diseases / surgery*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / etiology*
  • Sutures*
  • Wound Healing