Surf Tips

How To: DIY Stitches

Illustration by Micol Montesanti


DIY is so hot these days, but DIY first aid is more than just trendy… it’s useful.

It pays to know a bit of first aid on a surf trip for obvious reasons, and a cut from fins or reef is one of the most common physical mishaps you might encounter on your watery sojourns.

We’re not talking about re-attaching a limb after a Great White attack or a sword fight here, this advice is geared at closing up a small deep, wound. However, if that wound happens to be upon any part of the body with the word ‘ball’ in, like ‘eyeball’, or ‘ball bag’, seek professional medical help.

As a guide, the general rule is two stitches every centimetre of wound, but more the better especially if you wanna get back in the water quickly. Just remember to keep it clean. Real, real clean. Chicks digs scars, perhaps. But nobody digs gangrene.

Even the very finest shred lords get cut… Parko’s horrific heel ouch.

1. First rinse the wound with fresh water if available to get rid of the sand, dirt, fibreglass, seaweed, crabs or anything else inside it. You can use also hydrogen peroxide; it’ll not only clean the wound but also slow down the bleeding. Then use Betadine (or other brand of iodine solution) for disinfection.

2. Using clean fingers, pinch the two sides of the wound to enable closure.

3. Use surgical thread if possible, but any kind of thread could work (e.g. fishing line) Pierce from outside to inside then go through the wound and pierce from inside to outside on the other side. Don’t pierce too close to the wound (in case it rips), or too far. About 5mm should do.

4. Tie the knot well, a regular knot will do but make sure it is strong enough, then cut the thread. Then repeat as per the number of stitches needed. You can also use a medical stapler, they’re easier to use and pack; Staplers are particularly ideal for head wounds. If you’re cut in the foot area (pretty common for surfers), when you’re done stitching, cover the stitches with a dressing.

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