Accidents happen, and while most minor cuts can be treated at home, some need to be treated more seriously. How do you know when you need stitches? Determining whether a cut needs stitches or can heal on its own can be a challenging task. By understanding the signs, examining the wound, and considering certain crucial factors, you can decide whether to treat the cut at home or visit a healthcare professional. Keep reading to learn more!
How to Care for Cuts
When you experience a cut, it’s important to address it immediately to ensure that it is properly cared for. In the event of a laceration, follow the instructions below:
Stop the Bleeding
- Use a clean cloth or bandage, gauze pad, or hand to apply firm and steady pressure directly on the wound. This helps promote clotting and slows down the bleeding.
- If possible, raise the injured area above the level of your heart. This reduces blood flow to the afflicted area and helps minimize bleeding.
- Continue applying pressure for at least 10-15 minutes. Avoid peeking to check if the bleeding has stopped, as it may disrupt the clotting process. If the cloth becomes soaked with blood, place another clean cloth on top without removing the first one.
Sanitize the Cut
- Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water to prevent introducing any bacteria or contaminants to the wound.
- Gently rinse the cut with cool running water to remove dirt, debris, or blood. Avoid using harsh antiseptics or hydrogen peroxide, as they can delay healing and damage healthy tissue.
- Apply a small amount of mild, fragrance-free soap to your hands and gently cleanse around the wound. Avoid scrubbing the cut directly, as it may cause further damage.
- After cleaning the area around the cut, rinse it with cool water to remove any soap residue. Pat the wound dry to avoid any injury.
Dress the Wound
- Gather all the necessary materials for bandaging, including clean gloves, sterile adhesive bandages or gauze pads, medical tape, and any prescribed ointments or dressings.
- Apply an antibiotic cream to the wound according to the product’s instructions. Use a clean cotton swab or sterile gloved fingers to apply a thin layer of the ointment directly to the wound.
- Take a sterile adhesive bandage, sterile gauze pad, or Steri-Strip™ that is large enough to fully cover the wound. Carefully position it, ensuring there is enough material to extend beyond the edges of the wound.
- Use medical tape or adhesive strips to secure the edges of the dressing. Make sure the tape is not too tight to allow for proper circulation but tight enough to keep it in place.
- Regularly inspect the dressing for any signs of infection, such as increased redness, red streaks, swelling, or discharge. Change it if it becomes wet, dirty, or starts to come loose.
How Do You Know When You Need Stitches?
Determining if a cut needs stitches can depend on several factors. When deciding if your laceration will require medical attention, consider the following:
- The cut may require stitches if it is more than one quarter (¼) inch deep. Severe cuts may expose deeper tissue layers, muscles, fatty white tissue under the skin, or bone, and often need professional medical care to promote proper healing.
- Cuts that are longer than half an inch or have gaping edges may benefit from stitches. Stitches help align the edges of the wound, reducing the risk of infection and facilitating faster healing.
- Cuts on the face, hands, feet, or joints, may require stitches due to the risk of impaired function, scarring, or difficulty in healing. Additionally, cuts on areas prone to movement or tension may need stitches to ensure proper closure.
- If a cut doesn’t stop bleeding even after direct pressure is applied for a sufficient amount of time, it may require stitches. Persistent bleeding or spurting blood may indicate damage to blood vessels that need medical attention.
- Cuts with uneven or jagged edges may be more challenging to heal naturally and may benefit from stitches to ensure proper alignment and reduce scarring.
- If the cut is dirty, contaminated with debris, or caused by an object that may introduce bacteria into the wound, stitches may be recommended to reduce the risk of infection.
If you’re unsure about the severity of a cut or whether stitches are needed, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention from your nearest emergency room right away! A healthcare professional can evaluate the wound and provide appropriate treatment recommendations.
What Happens If You Don’t Get Stitches?
Whether or not you seek out stitches for an injury is always your choice. However, if a wound that requires stitches is left untreated or not properly closed, several potential complications can arise. These risks include but are not limited to:
- Delayed Healing
- Increased Risk of Infection
- Poor Cosmetic Outcome
- Complications in High-Tension Areas
- Increased Risk of Tissue Damage
- Higher Risk of Recurrent Bleeding
Get Medical Help from Altus Lumberton Hospital
Understanding the signs that indicate the need for stitches is crucial for proper wound care! If you need clarification about the severity of a cut, it is best to consult a healthcare professional. Altus Lumberton Hospital is dedicated to providing exceptional care, including wound care and stitches, with a team of experienced medical professionals. Visit our website to learn more about our services!