Accidents happen, whether it's a minor kitchen mishap or a rough fall when out on a hike. But when the wound or cut goes beyond a minor scratch, how do you know if stitches are required?
The experienced medical team at Rapid City Healthcare offers the following tips to help you determine if immediate medical intervention is needed, as neglecting a wound could lead to serious complications.
1. Wound depth
The depth of the wound is the best indication of whether it requires stitches. If you can see yellow fatty tissue, muscle, or, in more severe cases, bone, your wound is deep enough to get stitches. A shallow cut might not need stitches, but you should still keep an eye out for signs of infection.
2. Wound length
Wounds longer than half an inch often benefit from stitches to ensure proper healing, prevent infection, and reduce scarring. However, the location of the wound also matters. A shorter wound on the face, for instance, may be sutured for cosmetic reasons.
3. Gap width
If the edges of the wound aren’t staying together or gape open, it's a sign that stitches might be necessary. The natural elasticity of the skin can sometimes pull a wound apart, especially if it’s on a joint or a stretched area.
4. Location of the injury
Certain areas, like joints, are under frequent tension and movement, which could cause a wound to reopen. If the injury is on a joint or a place that moves a lot (like your hands), we may recommend stitches to ensure the wound remains closed during the healing process.
5. Continuous bleeding
If a wound doesn’t stop bleeding after 20-30 minutes of direct pressure, stitches may be necessary to close the wound and control the bleeding.
6. Jagged or uneven edges
While a straight cut might heal well on its own with proper care, jagged or uneven wounds often heal better with stitches. This helps in reducing the potential for scars and ensures that the wound heals evenly.
What to do if you think you need stitches
If after assessing your wound you believe stitches might be necessary, follow these steps:
- Apply pressure with a clean cloth to control bleeding
- Keep it clean with water and mild soap
- Elevate the injured area to minimize swelling and reduce bleeding
- Seek medical attention at Rapid City Healthcare’s urgent care or your nearest emergency room
When in doubt, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Seek immediate medical attention if you believe your wound requires stitches. Visit the urgent care at Rapid City Healthcare in Irving, Texas, if you think you need stitches, or call or schedule an appointment online for routine medical needs.