Cuts and lacerations are among the top causes of lost work hours. Most small, shallow cuts heal on their own. But, sometimes, they need stitches to heal properly, limit scarring, and prevent infection.
Dr. Bharat Gandhi and his team at Medinet Family Care Clinic in Houston, TX, offer stitches and other urgent care treatment for cuts, punctures, and lacerations.
Here’s how to tell if your cut might require stitches.
Most shallow cuts will heal on their own, although they might benefit from a bandage and some over-the-counter antibiotic cream to prevent infection. However, if a cut is deep, healing can take a lot longer, and the risk of infection can increase, too. Generally speaking, if your cut is more than a quarter-inch deep, it’s probably going to need stitches.
It’s long or wide
If your cut is long — more than an inch or so in length — it probably needs to be evaluated, even if it doesn’t end up needing stitches. Longer cuts sometimes need help to heal properly, and they can also have an increased risk of developing an infection.
When a cut is wide, the edges might not join together on their own, or they may not line up correctly, which can result in a scar or delayed healing. And, like a long or deep cut, wider cuts also have a higher risk of developing an infection.
It’s near a joint
Every time you bend a joint, you stretch the skin around it. It should be no surprise then that if your cut is near a joint, the cut may reopen when you bend or flex. Again, even if your cut doesn’t require stitches, a doctor should still evaluate it to prevent infection.
It won’t stop bleeding
Most cuts bleed at least a little, but your body’s clotting action should stop the flow fairly quickly. However, if a cut continues to bleed and soaks through bandages and gauze, that’s a sign that your cut might need a few stitches to allow it to heal. If a cut is bleeding a lot, call 911.
Other reasons to seek medical care
Even if a cut doesn’t need stitches, there are still reasons why you might want — or need — to see a doctor:
- It’s been more than 10 years since your last tetanus shot
- The cut is from an animal or human bite
- The cut is dirty and can’t be cleaned completely
- The cut was made by a dirty object
- A closed cut shows signs of infection
If you’re not sure if your cut needs stitches or other medical attention, call our office or come in. You can also schedule a visit; call our Houston office at 281-564-3300, or request an appointment online.