Most of us occasionally get cuts, scrapes, and bruises, especially children. While most small scratches can be treated at home, it’s important to get wounds closed by a medical professional when needed right away.
Here’s what you need to know about stitches and when they may be necessary.
When Do I Need to Get Stitches?
When a wound occurs, it’s critical to immediately wash your hands and then try to stop the bleeding. You may need to apply light pressure with a clean cloth or bandage. Elevation can also help slow the bleeding.
Once the bleeding stops, check the wound. Stitches are typically needed when:
- Cuts are more than a quarter of an inch (0.25") deep with jagged edges or gaping open
- The cut is in a place where scarring is noticeable, i.e. the face or legs
- The wound is over a joint, especially if the wound reopens when the joint moves
- Deep wounds on the hand
- The wound reaches the fat, muscle, or bone
- Wounds that bleed after 15 minutes of direct pressure
If you’re unsure whether a wound needs stitches, wash the wound and stop the bleeding. Pinch together the sides of the cut. If it comes together evenly and looks better, consider seeing a doctor.
If it doesn’t need stitches, wash the area surrounding the wound with soap and water. Be sure not to get soap in the wound. Use antibiotic ointment to keep the site moist and prevent scarring. Keep the wound covered with either a bandage or gauze until healed.
How Soon Does the Wound Need to Be Treated?
Where the wound is located and the type of the wound will impact how soon it needs to be treated.
A cut with a clean object with a low risk of infection, such as a cut with a clean kitchen knife, can be treated anywhere from 12 to 24 hours later, depending on the location.
Cuts that have a high risk of infection need to be treated earlier. For example, a dirty cut is typically closed at least 6 hours after injury. However, occasionally wounds with an increased risk of infection are stitched after 24 hours or even left alone so that they can be adequately cleaned and given an antibiotic treatment to prevent infection.
It’s essential to see a medical provider right away to get stitches. Infections can be serious if not treated immediately. Also, wounds start to heal quickly - if a wound starts to close it may leave fewer options for the provider to treat.
Patient Plus Urgent Care – Get in, Get better.
When you’re sick or injured, whether routine or urgent, quality medical care should be easy to find and available when you need it. That’s the idea behind Patient Plus Urgent Care, with convenient locations in Baton Rouge, Prairieville, & Brusly.
Patient Plus treats most common illnesses and injuries — the sniffles, rashes, fevers, aches, breaks, and other conditions that deserve prompt treatment but aren’t serious enough to require a trip to the nearest emergency room. The clinics provide complete diagnostic services, including X-rays, EKGs, and flu and strep tests. Other services include physicals, vaccinations, and more. Patient Plus clinics are open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and patients never need to call first or make an appointment.