Most of us have been there at least once. We’re just going along, living our lives, when suddenly an accident happens and suddenly we’re looking at a bloody gash on ourselves or someone else.
If you’ve been there, you know the very next thought is whether or not it merits a trip to urgent care for stitches.
But when do you need stitches?
Today, we’re breaking it down in this handy guide to help you determine if that cut is in need of urgent care or if it can be dealt with at home. Keep reading to learn more.
When Stitches Are Necessary
There are multiple cut-type wounds that you should be familiar with, so you first know what kind of injury you’re dealing with and when to get stitches.
- A laceration is a cut that goes deeper than the surface of the skin
- An abrasion is a surface wound
- An avulsion is where a chunk of tissue is torn away
Abrasions and some lacerations can be treated at home if they aren’t deep and don’t carry additional risks. Avulsions generally require medical assistance, unless they’re small.
But how do you know the difference between a wound that requires stitches and one that doesn’t?
Generally, you may need stitches if one of the following is true.
- The cut is on your head or face.
- You can see muscle, tendon, bone, or fatty tissues through the cut. Even if there isn’t a lot of bleeding, anytime additional tissue is visible through the wound it needs medical attention.
- The cut was made by an animal, such as a bite.
- The cut continues to bleed after ten minutes, even if it isn’t large.
- The cut was created by a material that could expose you to infection.
Why Stitches Should Be Used
Stitches are used to bring the edges of a wound back together, stopping the bleeding and helping to create a barrier against infection.
Even when cuts aren’t large or deep, they could be at risk for an infection depending on where and how they were created. Animal bites and scratches, for instance, may not be deep but may become infected if not properly cleaned and treated.
Lacerations can affect other systems within the body, such as nerves, blood vessels, bones, tendons, and ligaments. If you suspect that the cut might be close to any of these systems, you’ll want to get it checked out.
If you’re unsure how to tell if you need stitches, it may be best to take a trip to your nearest urgent care and let a medical professional decide.
When Do You Need Stitches?
So when do you need stitches? Generally speaking, if the cut is deep, won’t stop bleeding, or was made by an animal or material that poses the risk of infection, you’ll want to take a trip into urgent care to get it checked out and possibly stitched up.
If you’re unsure, play it safe and contact us at Coastal Urgent Care to have it looked at. We’ll have you stitched up and back in action in no time!