Cuts and scrapes are a normal part of life. But sometimes a deep cut can set off alarm bells. That's why it's important to know whether an incision needs stitches.
Should you rush to the emergency room for a knife wound or treat it at home? When does an incision need stitches? If you've ever wondered, "Does my incision need stitches?" or wondered, "When is it too late to give stitches?" We have the answers for you.
Whether it's an accident in the kitchen or an accident while the kids are playing, knowing when to get stitches for a cut will prevent unnecessary stress and help you make informed decisions in the event of an accident.
Need points? Follow these steps.
There are a few main reasons why you might need stitches. Especially if your cut is too big or jagged to heal well on its own, or too deep for the bleeding to stop without stitches and medical attention. But let's take a closer look so you can make an informed decision in the event of a cut.
Step 1: Size
If your wound is larger than about ½ inch or deeper than ¼ inch, you should see a doctor right away and you will need stitches. This size incision will likely bleed excessively and will need stitches to stop the bleeding.
However, this does not mean that a small wound does not need medical attention. ONEstab wound, such as that caused by stepping on a nail or a dog bite, can cause a deep wound that can lead to a serious infection.
Step 2: Location
Some cuts are more difficult to heal because of their location. Cuts on the face, especially around the eyes, hands or genitals, are prone to infection and need stitches.
Other incisions may need stitches as your body movement keeps them open. If the wound is over a joint, you will likely need stitches to keep the cut closed and allow it to heal. For example, if you have a cut on your knee, the motion of walking can prevent it from healing.
Step 3: Amount of Bleeding
Your cut should stop or almost stop bleeding after 10 to 15 minutes of lifting and pressing.
If it continues to bleed, it could mean that the cut has punctured an artery or vein. That means you need points.
Get medical help right away if:
- Blood is bright red instead of dark red
- Blood pulsates or spurts out of the wound
- The person who bleedsanticoagulant medications (blood thinning)
- Bleeding slows or does not stop
In all these situations, you need immediate stitches and medical attention.
Step 4: Appearance of the Cut
Examine your cut as best you can. If your cut is deep enough that you can see different types of tissue – including fat, muscle or bone – you will need stitches to allow it to heal properly.
It is often difficult to see in a bloody cut. However, if you can see distinct layers of tissue in your cut, it's a sure sign that it's deep enough to require medical attention. If you can't see anything but there's a lot of blood, it's a good idea to see a doctor.
Step 5: cause of the cut
Cuts from clean blades (like kitchen knives) usually have straight edges that heal well. You are also less likely to get infected. These cuts may not require stitches.
Other sharp objects can complicate a wound and make you more susceptible to infection. You will likely need additional medical attention, including stitches, if the cut was caused by:
- A rusty or uneven tool
- a dirty device
- An animal bite or scratch
- broken glass
Also, you may need medication.prevent tetanus(if your cut was caused by a rusty tool) or anti-rabies treatment (if the bite was from a wild animal).
Cut care after stitches
Your wound care is not complete after it is sutured. If you haveabsorbable sutures, it may take a week or two for them to disappear. If you don't have absorbable sutures (also known as dissolvable sutures), your sutures may remain3 to 14 days, depending on the size and location of the cut. You will have to return to the hospital or clinic to have these stitches removed.
Be careful with your cutsigns of infectionhow it heals. You should see your doctor immediately if you notice redness (especially red streaks) around the wound, pus oozing from the wound, or if the wound feels warm to the touch.
If your stitches come loose before it's time to remove them, you need immediate medical attention.
When is it too late for stitches?
It is better to be sewn up as soon as possible. Your body starts the healing process right away, and if you wait too long to get stitches, it becomes harder to heal. Leaving a wound open for a long time also increases the risk of infection.
As a general rule, try to get stitches within 6 to 8 hours of an incision. In some cases, you can wait up to 12 to 24 hours. If you don't get points during this period,see a doctorabout the best course of action for your wound.
Don't need stitches? How to take care of a cut at home
The best way to care for a cut at home is to prepare before it happens. Make sure you have yourFirst aid kit for home usethe hand. It is important that your first aid kit is fully stocked and replenished every time you use it.
formake a cutAt home you may need:
- Disposable gloves
- sterile dressings
- Antibiotic gel or ointment
Having these things on hand means being prepared for an accident and potentially avoiding a trip to the hospital.
stop the bleeding
After you or a loved one is cut, your first priority is to stop the bleeding.Wash your handscarefully and put on disposable gloves, if you have them.
Remove any clothing that covers the wound. Do not remove embedded objects as this may cause further bleeding.
Cover the wound with sterile gauze and apply gentle, continuous pressure to the incision. At the same time, keep the cut elevated so it's higher than your heart. This should slowly stop the bleeding.
Even if blood seeps onto sterile gauze, do not remove it. Doing so may remove a scab that is starting to form, which will restart or worsen the bleeding. Instead, use more gauze and continue applying pressure until the bleeding stops.
clean the wound
As soon as the bleeding stops, carefully remove the gauze. If you feel resistance, you can safely remove the gauze with a little warm water without disturbing the new scab.
The next step is to clean the wound.search showsthat the best way to clean the wound is to rinse it with lukewarm drinking water, making sure to remove any residue left in the wound. That said, when out and about, it's always preferable to use bottled water over river or lake water. This is a more hygienic option.
Carefully clean the area around the cut with soap and water to prevent infection. When you're done, put an antibiotic ointment on the wound and cover it with a bandage.
When does an incision need stitches?
We hope this guide will help you in case of a future injury. And if you or a loved one gets a cut that needs stitches,city healthEasy to book offersemergency careConsultations for the care and treatment of your injuries.
Our patient-centric approach means you can count on our medical professionals to make your experience as comfortable as possible. Our two bay areasLocationsare open to you seven days a week. And you canMark online consultations, call us onet (510) 984-2489, or visit one of our clinics.
For other medical concerns, we offervirtual visitswhere you can speak with a doctor in the comfort of your own home. And CityHealth is proud to offer it.COVID-19 testsin many places in California.
Size: You need stitches when your cut is deep, more than a half-inch long, gapping, has ragged edges, or had debris inside of it. Bleeding: If you're bleeding through a bandage after applying direct pressure for ten minutes, you likely need stitches.What happens if I don't get stitches? ›
Without stitches, it may take 3 weeks or more for a wound to heal. Prolonged healing time isn't only a nuisance, it's also an infection risk. The risk of a wound infection continues as long as the wound hasn't healed. This is especially important to keep in mind if you have diabetes or you are immunocompromised.What is the rule for stitches? ›
One general rule of thumb is that if the cut is more than half an inch deep, it will probably need stitches. However, there are other factors to consider as well, such as the location of the cut and whether it is jagged or clean.How deep can a cut be without stitches? ›
Your wound likely requires stitches if: it's deeper or longer than half an inch. it's deep enough that fatty tissue, muscle, or bone is exposed.Should I worry about a small cut? ›
A small cut or scrape will usually heal well without medical care. Here's what to do if the injury isn't serious: Stop bleeding by pressing a clean, soft cloth against the wound for a few minutes. If the wound is bleeding a lot, you'll need to hold pressure for longer (sometimes up to 15 minutes).