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How to Know if a Cut Requires Stitches

You’re putting away leftovers from dinner when your young son shuffles into the room, wailing. You hurry over to him and notice blood dripping from his arm. As you move his shaking hands away from the blood, you see a large gash. “I cut myself climbing the fence,” he whimpers.

Immediately you ask yourself this question: Does it require stitches, or a quick antibiotic and bandage?

If you have been in a similar situation, it’s important to know if a cut requires stitches. If a deep cut does not get the proper treatment, it can become infected or not heal properly.

What to Look For:

A cut may require stitches if:

  1. You see bone, tendon, muscle or fatty tissue, even if bleeding is not severe.
  2. The cut is on the face.
  3. The cut was made by a person or animal.
  4. There is excessive bleeding that doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of pressure.

Also called a laceration, a cut is different from an abrasion (surface wound) and avulsion (when a chunk of skin is torn away).

Lacerations have the potential to be very deep. But what exactly classifies a cut as “deep?” According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a deep cut is more than a quarter-inch deep.

Deep cuts can affect the following:

  • Tendons
  • Muscles
  • Ligaments
  • Nerves
  • Blood vessels
  • Bone

“Most of the time, a doctor stitches up a wound to simply bring the tissue back together, and that pressure will stop the bleeding and help prevent infection,” said Dr. Seth Podolsky, vice chairman for the Cleveland Center’s Emergency Services Institute.

Luckily, an urgent care center is the perfect solution for a cut that requires stitches. Unlike an emergency room, most urgent care centers have short wait times and are much more affordable. And there’s no need to worry about the quality of care – GoHealth Urgent Care's centers offer caring, highly skilled medical teams. They are also open during non-business hours.

By visiting your neighborhood urgent care center, you can get in, get out and get back to life. No hassles.

So, if you’re ever faced with a bleeding cut and you don’t know what to do, examine it closely. If you notice one of the signs mentioned above, visit a GoHealth Urgent Care center near you. We’ll be ready for you!


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