When to Get Stitches

June 1, 2021

When to Get Stitches- AFC Urgent Care

Everyone gets scraped and cut at some point. Most of the time, these kinds of wounds or lacerations are minor and heal without any treatment at all. However, sometimes cuts require sutures (more commonly known as stitches) to heal correctly.

How are you supposed to know when you or your child’s cut or laceration is bad enough to where it needs to be stitched up? Or does it even need to be a serious wound to require sutures?

Learn more from our AFC Urgent Care Ballantyne team below.

  • Here’s what to do: Evaluate the size of the laceration. The size of your laceration is an important indicator of whether it needs sutures, and this includes the length and depth. Your wound likely needs to be stitched up if it’s deeper or longer than half an inch, it’s deep enough that fatty tissue, muscle or bone is exposed, and/or it’s wide or gaping.
  • What to do next: Take into account the amount of bleeding from the laceration. A laceration that is bleeding profusely and doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure likely requires sutures.
  • Something else to look out for: Be aware of the location of your laceration. Lacerations on certain parts of the body, like the joints, can increase the likelihood of needing to be stitched up. Wounds on or across a joint will likely require sutures, especially if the wound opens when the joint is moved.
  • One more thing to keep in mind: How was the laceration caused? The causes of some lacerations make sutures more important. Wounds and lacerations caused by animal bites have a higher infection rate, so they will sometimes require antibiotics in addition to sutures.
  • What to do after: If you feel like your or your child’s laceration requires sutures, visit our AFC center right away to avoid infection or excessive blood loss.
  • Signs of infection to watch out for: If you aren’t convinced that the laceration needs to be stitched up because of the wound itself, be on the lookout for signs of infection. If there are things like redness around the laceration, increased swelling, pus, drainage or red streaks spreading out from the wound, it’s likely that it’s infected and will need both antibiotics and sutures.
  • Action steps to take: Following a laceration, there are some things you can do to doctor the wound before getting sutures. These things include applying pressure using a clean cloth or bandage and elevating the injured area, gently washing the wound with soap and water without scrubbing when the bleeding stops, and covering the laceration with gauze or a bandage.
  • Doctor recommendations: It’s best to seek medical attention immediately for lacerations that make you think twice. Even if you don’t know whether or not your laceration needs to be stitched up, getting the correct diagnosis from one of our doctors will give you peace of mind and will ensure that the wound heals properly.

It can be tough to know when to get sutures. Do your best to stay calm, apply direct pressure to the wound and visit our AFC Urgent Care Ballantyne center to get the necessary treatment!

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