Does This Wound Need Stitches?

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Does This Wound Need Stitches?

Does This Wound Need Stitches?

You cut out food for dinner and accidentally slice yourself. Or maybe your child gets injured playing on park. It looks like it could be serious.

First of all, call 911 if it’s an emergency. Some signs of injury include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Sprays blood
  • Doesn’t the bleeding stop after 5 minutes of hard pressure?
  • For chest, abdomen or neck
  • Occurs with any emergency symptoms: severe pain, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing, vomiting, dizziness, unconsciousness
  • Is something going on in your eye or your throat? If something is stuck in these areas, leave it in place. Keep the person calm.

If the injury is not an emergency, but is worse than a simple scrape or scratch, you may not be sure what to do. Do you just bandage deeper cuts and wounds, or do you go and get stitches?

What Are Stitches?

The seams on your skin are like the seams on your clothes – a string of threads that hold everything together. They are made from many different materials, such as nylon or silk. And some, like those used for mouth injuries, resolve on their own.

Stitches are important when you need them because:

  • Give you support and strength as your skin shuts down
  • Reduce your chances of bleeding and infection
  • Minimize scars

Therefore, it helps to know when to handle a cut on your own and when to see a doctor.

How Do I Know If I Need Stitches?

From the size of the wound to its location, there are many signs that you need stitches or at least have a doctor checked.

How big is it? You should see a doctor if:

  • It looks very deep even if it’s not particularly long or wide
  • Longer than half an inch
  • It opens so wide that you can’t bring the edges together with a little pressure.
  • It has rough edges.
  • Contains debris such as dirt, glass or gravel

How bad is it bleeding? You will most likely need stitches if the wound:

  • Bleeding enough to get wet from a bandage
  • Continues bleeding even after applying direct pressure for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Sprays blood

What caused this? For some wounds, you may need a tetanus shot as well as stitches. Tetanus is one of the standard vaccines for children. Adults need a booster every 10 years.

Take immediate care if the wound is caused by:

  • Animal or human bite
  • Dirty or rusty object
  • A pointed object that may have gone deep into the skin, such as stepping on a nail, especially if the wound is under a shoe

Where is the wound? See your doctor if the wound is in any of these areas:

  • Around a joint such as your elbow or knee
  • Touching a bone
  • Face
  • Hand
  • Genitals
  • Mouth
  • Next to your eye

Is it contagious? Finally, you will need a doctor if you or a child in your care has any signs of infection:

  • Chills or fever of 100 F or higher
  • Red lines near the wound
  • The skin becomes red or more painful
  • The pain is hot, swollen, or oozing pus
  • Feeling like throwing up
  • If you have any doubts, it is best to call your doctor.