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  • Writer's pictureIEP Urgent Care

Knowing When a Cut Requires Stitches: A Quick Guide

Updated: May 10


young boy fell off his bike, middle-aged woman tending to his injury

Cuts and scrapes are a common part of life, but not all of them require medical attention. Some cuts are deeper or more severe, necessitating stitches to properly heal and reduce the risk of infection. If you have a deep or large cut and you’re unsure how to properly treat it, the ER-trained providers at IEP Urgent Care can determine the severity of the cut and apply stitches if need be. We’ve got seven locations in Metro Detroit open seven days a week and ready to help!


Knowing when a cut requires stitches is simple once you know what to look for. Here are a few guidelines to know what you’re dealing with:


Depth of the Cut:


Shallow Cuts: If the cut is shallow and only affects the top layer of skin (epidermis), it usually doesn't require stitches. These cuts typically heal well with proper cleaning and bandaging.


Deep Cuts: If the cut is deep and extends beyond the epidermis into the dermis, it may need stitches to close properly. Deep cuts that are left open have a higher risk of infection and scarring.


Length and Width:


Long Cuts: Cuts longer than half an inch or one centimeter may require stitches to ensure proper healing and minimize scarring.

Wide Cuts: Cuts that are gaping or wider than a quarter of an inch or half a centimeter usually need stitches to close the wound effectively.


Bleeding:


Persistent Bleeding: If the cut continues to bleed heavily even after applying pressure for several minutes, it may require stitches. Persistent bleeding suggests that the wound is too deep for the body to clot effectively on its own.


Spurting Blood: Arterial bleeding, indicated by blood spurting out of the wound with each heartbeat, is a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical attention.


Location of the Cut:


Joint or Flexion Areas: Cuts in areas that bend, such as joints (knees, elbows) or flexion areas (wrists, fingers), may require stitches to ensure proper closure and prevent interference with movement.


Face or Highly Visible Areas: Cuts on the face or other highly visible areas may require stitches to minimize scarring and promote better healing.


Foreign Objects:


Embedded Objects: If there are any foreign objects (like glass or debris) lodged in the wound, it usually requires medical attention. Attempting to remove these objects yourself can cause further damage.


Pain and Sensation:


Numbness or Loss of Sensation: If the cut causes numbness or loss of sensation around the area, it may indicate nerve damage, which requires medical evaluation.


Extreme Pain: Cuts that are extremely painful, especially if the pain persists or worsens, may require stitches.


Signs of Infection:


Redness, Swelling, or Pus: If the cut becomes increasingly red, swollen, warm to the touch, or starts oozing pus, it may be infected and require medical attention.


Fever or Chills: Systemic symptoms like fever or chills accompanying a cut may indicate an infection that needs medical treatment.


Tetanus Risk: Rusty or Dirty Objects: If the cut was caused by a rusty or dirty object, you may need a tetanus shot, especially if you haven't had one in the last five years.


When in Doubt, Seek Medical Attention:


If you're unsure whether a cut requires stitches, it's always best to seek medical advice. Prompt treatment can prevent complications and ensure proper healing.


All seven IEP Urgent Care locations are equipped to evaluate and treat cuts that require stitches.

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