How to Determine When a Laceration Requires Urgent Care

A bleeding laceration can cause fright, tears, and confusion, not to mention pain adding to the chaos. However, not every cut requires a visit to the urgent care or stitches. Knowing the difference can help you avoid waits to see a doctor for a small cut that just needs cleaning and a bandaid, but also prevent delaying care for someone with a serious laceration in danger of infection or uneven healing. 

At 1st Choice Urgent Care in Bakersfield, California, Dr. Yadwinder Kang can evaluate a laceration and determine appropriate treatment. Here’s how to know if you need urgent care services for your laceration.

Blood loss

Sometimes a laceration is in an area that bleeds a lot because blood vessels are close to the surface of the skin and plentiful. This means cuts to the scalp, fingers, or toes can bleed profusely, making a wound look worse than it is. The good news is that with pressure, such lacerations often stop bleeding quickly, so if it doesn’t look deep, you can apply pressure and then clean the cut. If it keeps bleeding, then you probably need to go to 1st Choice Urgent Care.

Size of the cut

If the cut is deep enough that it gapes, is near a joint, is very long, or has jagged edges, you may need to visit urgent care. Small cuts less than 1/2 inch deep or long, if cleaned properly and bandaged, may not require a visit as long as they are appropriately treated at home. If you can see fatty tissue, muscle, tendon or bone, go to 1st Choice Urgent Care.


Punctures are concerning because they are hard to clean and more prone to infection. If you have a puncture wound or have been bitten by a human or animal, you may need a booster tetanus shot. The depth and circumference of the puncture will help determine whether you need to see a doctor. Redness, heat, and swelling around the puncture are signs of infection.

Time to go to urgent care

Lacerations that don’t stop bleeding with pressure, that expose tendons, fatty tissue or muscle, or are caused by an animal or anything dirty or rusty should be examined by a doctor. If something is stuck in the cut, don’t try to remove it. Dr. Kang can safely remove objects or debris.

Do you need stitches?

Some lacerations will only need to be cleaned and taped firmly together to start the healing process. Others will require stitches for even healing, especially if they are in a very visible place. Stitches may need to be removed later. Dr. Kang will tell you what aftercare is needed and prescribe antibiotics and pain relief if necessary. 

If there is any doubt in your mind whether you should see a doctor for a laceration, it is better to be safe than sorry. Come into 1st Choice Urgent Care for appropriate treatment. You can call 661-230-9334 or request an appointment online.

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