How to Know If You Need Stitches

Did you accidentally cut yourself? If you have, it happens, and it’s certainly easy to panic once you see blood flowing out of your arm or hand.

It’s natural to think you might need stitches after getting cut, but that’s not always the case. Most shallow cuts will heal on their own, so how are you supposed to know when you should visit the doctor for potential stitches? Our AFC Urgent Care Ooltewah team provides some answers below.

  • Here’s what to do: Check the size of your cut. If your cut, scratch or laceration is deeper or longer than half an inch, has ragged edges and/or is deep enough that fatty tissue, muscle or bone is exposed, you’ll need stitches.

  • What to do next: Keep track of how much the cut is bleeding. A laceration that is heavily bleeding and doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of applying direct pressure will usually need stitches to properly heal.

  • Also: Consider the location of your laceration. Cuts on certain parts of the body, like the joints, hand, near the eye or around the genital area can cause lots of bleeding and will need medical attention to be properly mended.

  • Something else to consider: The cause of your laceration. Things like animal bites and pointed, rusty metal objects can cause infection, so they will need professional medical attention to be treated correctly.

  • Additionally: Watch out for signs of infection. If you are experiencing things like red streaks around the laceration, a fever of 100 F or higher, increased swelling, pus or drainage, the cut is probably infected and will need professional medical care.

  • What to do after: If your cut or laceration shows these signs, visit our AFC right away to get stitches, which will help you avoid infection or excessive blood loss.

  • Action steps to take: Perform basic first aid after getting cut. Things like applying pressure using a clean cloth or bandage, elevating the injured area, rinsing the wound under cold water and covering the laceration with dry gauze or a bandage are all key in keeping the bleeding under control and the wound intact before heading to get medical attention.

  • Doctor recommendations: Not sure if you need stitches? It’s better to avoid diagnosing yourself and visit our AFC center to let us diagnose the severity of your laceration. This will give you peace of mind and ensure that the wound heals properly.

For stitches and other general medical care, don’t hesitate to visit our AFC Urgent Care Ooltewah center today!