Everyone gets cuts and scratches from time to time. Your body has a unique ability to heal itself after injury, but more serious cuts may require stitches to promote proper healing. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to know if that cut you just got needs stitches or not.
Severe lacerations that come with significant blood loss or symptoms like intense pain, difficulty breathing, dizziness, or unconsciousness require a 911 call and emergency medical care.
In other cases, the injury may not appear so severe — and our team at Medical Associates Of North Texas can help. We offer acute urgent care services for people with cuts and other lacerations that aren’t life-threatening, but need immediate care and stitches.
How to determine if your cut needs stitches
Every injury is different, so it’s important to recognize the signs of a medical emergency and call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room in life-threatening situations.
To determine if your mild or moderate cut needs stitches, consider these things:
Size of the cut
The larger the cut, the more serious it may be. You may need stitches if:
- The cut is longer than about half an inch
- The cut is deeper than about half an inch
- The cut is wide
- The cut has ragged edges or torn skin
- You see deeper layers of tissue, muscle, or bone
Large cuts can’t close on their own, posing a greater risk of infection.
Amount of bleeding
Most cuts bleed at least a little bit, and the amount of blood you see can help you determine if the cut needs stitches. Apply direct pressure to the wound for 5-10 minutes. If it continues bleeding profusely or it spurts blood, seek immediate medical attention. Minor wounds should stop bleeding within a few minutes, but spurting blood could indicate a severed artery.
Location of the cut
The location of your injury could mean you need stitches. Seek prompt medical attention if you have a cut or laceration on:
- An eye or eyelid
- Neck or throat
- A joint, like an elbow or knee
Cuts in these areas may be prone to infection or less likely to heal on their own, which means they often need immediate medical care.
How you got the cut
Certain types of injuries could put you at increased risk of infection, even if they don’t look severe. Puncture wounds and bites from humans or animals should always be examined by a doctor. Additionally, cuts with debris, like dirt, gravel, or glass, may need professional care to avoid infection.
What to do if you need stitches
At the time of injury, practicing basic first aid can lower your risk of complications. Use a clean cloth or bandage and apply pressure on the cut to slow bleeding. If bleeding stops, wash your hands and gently clean the area to remove dirt or debris. Bandage it with a clean cloth or gauze.
If bleeding doesn’t stop or the cut is very large, cover it with a clean cloth or bandage and seek prompt medical attention. Our acute care team at Medical Associates Of North Texas can diagnose and treat non-life-threatening wounds in our clinic.
We examine your cut and take measures to stop bleeding. If needed, we give you stitches to close the wound and reduce the risk of infection. Then, we dress it with sterile bandages. Depending on how you got the injury, we may prescribe antibiotics or other medication.
Stitches may dissolve on their own over time or be removed by our doctors. As your injury heals, we give you instructions to care for it and teach you to identify signs of potential infection.
Still not sure if that cut needs stitches? Don’t hesitate to seek medical care if you or a loved one suffers an injury that you’re concerned about. Our compassionate team is here to help you find the treatment you need to start healing.
Call our Fort Worth, Texas, office at 972-433-7178 if you are concerned about a recent cut or laceration.