While minor cuts and scrapes will heal on their own, it is important to seek medical help for large cuts or wounds to prevent infection and ensure proper healing.
Small cuts or accidental puncture wounds happen to everyone from time to time and usually heal on their own with the help of soap and water and a bandage. According to Five Star ER Medical Director, Dr. Ken Domuczicz, “One of the most important aspects of wound care is the appropriate cleaning of the wound. This prevents infection and helps wounds heal faster and without infection.” For larger cuts or more serious injuries, stitches or sutures may be used to help close the wound, prevent infection and minimize scarring.
So how can you tell when stitches are needed and when they are not? Unfortunately, the answer is not as clear cut as it may seem. If you are uncertain of how serious an injury is or if you have any of the signs below, it may be best for you to seek medical attention.
When to Get Evaluated by a Medical Professional
It’s not always easy to tell if a cut requires stitches or if you need a medical evaluation. Ultimately, it’s up to your health care provider to determine if stitches are needed. You should seek medical care for any cut that:
- Is more than ¼ inch deep or ¾ inches long
- Has jagged edges or is gaping open so that the edges cannot be pressed together
- Continues to bleed after 15 minutes of direct pressure
- Is located across a joint (there may be damage to nerves, tendons or ligaments)
- Is the result of an animal bite
- Is the result of a contaminated, dirty or rusty object
- Is on the face or another body part where scarring may be a concern
What to Expect When Getting Stitches
We understand the thought of getting stitches after an injury can be scary. If your health care provider has determined that you need stitches here some things you can expect.
- Your health care provider may administer local anesthetic to minimize discomfort during the procedure.
- An X-ray may be ordered before the stitches are put in to ensure there are no foreign objects or debris in the wound or underneath the skin.
- There are several types of stitches that can be used including surgical thread, dissolvable stitches and liquid adhesive.
- After the procedure, your health care provider will give you instructions on caring for the wound. These are important as they may include specific instructions on cleaning, bandaging, etc.
- Depending on the severity of the cut or wound, stitches may need to be in place for several days or a few weeks.
About Five Star ER
Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, L.P., a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for more than 28 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.
Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes. To find the location nearest you, click here.
This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.