How to Tell if Your Cut Needs Stitches

Even though cuts and scrapes are common, they can be scary. If you’re unsure whether a trip to 1st Choice Urgent Care is necessary or not, here are a few things to look for if you or your child has a cut or puncture wound that may need stitches.

Location is important

Stitches minimize scarring, so if the cut is on your face, you’ll want to have it checked out. It’s particularly important to seek care if the injury is near your eyes. If the wound is near your genitals, you may also want to have Dr. Kang look at it.

A cut that’s over a joint also requires medical attention. There are more nerves and ligaments around your joints than other areas, and you want to make sure they haven’t been damaged.

How much blood is there?

Most minor cuts will stop bleeding after 5-10 minutes of elevation with pressure applied. If yours doesn’t, seek medical attention.

If the blood is spurting from the wound, you should call 9-1-1 or get to 1st Choice Urgent Care quickly, because you may have cut a major blood vessel.

How it looks matters

You should get medical attention if:

Most of the time, you should be able to close the wound with gentle pressure. If you can’t because it’s too wide, you may need stitches. If the edges of your cut are ragged, there’s more likelihood that you’ll need medical attention.

What caused the wound is important

You’ll need a tetanus shot if you haven’t had one in the past 10 years. You almost always require a tetanus booster, even if you’ve had one in the last five years if the wound contains dirt or you have any of the following injuries:

If there’s any question about your tetanus vaccine status, Dr. Kang will advise you about whether or not you need a booster.

Steps to take

Whether your injury ultimately needs stitches or not, gently clean your cut with water and mild soap to prevent infection. Then, pull the edges together, apply pressure, and elevate your injury. The bleeding should stop within a few minutes.

In instances where you think a child may need stitches, don’t let them eat or drink anything in case mild sedation is needed while suturing their cut.

If your injury was caused by a foreign object, like a stick or nail, and that object is still embedded in your body, don’t remove it. Instead, come to 1st Choice Urgent Care immediately.

If you’re not sure, the old saying “better safe than sorry” applies. So when in doubt about whether stitches are appropriate, visit our office in Bakersfield, California. Dr. Kang and the rest of our staff are happy to put your mind at ease if you don’t require stitches, or to provide treatment if you do.

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