Knowing When a Cut Needs Stitches

Sometimes a cut is just a paper cut or a shallow scrape that heals on its own with a simple bandage. But there are other instances where a cut can be quite serious and may require sutures to close the wound. Luckily, there are a few things you can look out for to tell if your cut needs stitches.

Here at Casa de Salud, Dr. Afshin Akhavan and our compassionate primary care medical team can help you with all of your medical needs, including urgent care issues like lacerations. That’s why we’ve compiled this helpful guide to knowing if your cut needs stitches.

Location, location, location

When it comes to whether or not you need stitches, the location of your cut does play a role. For cosmetic reasons, you should come in to see if you need stitches when you have a cut anywhere on your face, particularly near your eyes.

For health reasons, you also want to have a cut examined if it’s across a joint, such as an elbow or knee, since joints contain sensitive nerves and connective tissues, and we can check them for damage. You also want to take care if the cut is anywhere near your genitals, as this is also a sensitive area.

What shape is it in?

You definitely want to have us examine your cut if it’s more than a quarter inch deep, longer than half an inch, or you can see yellow tissue, which is the fat layer under the skin. If there’s debris in the cut, like dirt or small fragments, make an appointment so we can clean it for you.

A fairly surefire way to tell that a cut needs stitches if it’s gaping open and you can’t get it to close when applying gentle pressure.

How much blood is there?

Come in for us to examine the cut if there’s excessive bleeding, especially if you can’t stop it. A cut that doesn’t require medical attention will stop bleeding within about 5 minutes if you apply pressure and elevate it. If a cut bleeds through a bandage, it may  need stitches.

If you cut a major blood vessel and blood spurts from your wound, you need to seek emergency medical care immediately.

What to do right after your injury

If you don’t need urgent medical care, gently clean your wound with soap and water. Pull the edges of the wound together if you can and apply pressure while elevating the injury. 

If you were injured by a foreign object that’s still embedded in your body, don’t remove it. Wash the area gently to remove any dirt and seek emergency medical care as soon as possible

If you have a laceration and want assistance to decide whether you need to have it examined by one of our providers, contact one of our Los Angeles area offices by phone. You can also request an appointment through our convenient online booking system anytime.

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