Does That Cut Need Stitches?

Nearly everyone gets a cut at some point in their lives. In fact, cuts and lacerations — which are serious cuts — are among the top causes of lost work hours.

In most cases, small cuts can heal on their own. But, sometimes they need stitches to heal properly, limit scarring, and prevent infection.

With three locations in Los Angeles, Essential Medical Clinic offers stitches and other urgent care options for people with cuts, punctures, and lacerations. Here’s how to tell if your cut might require stitches.

It’s deep

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 properly, 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, it should still be evaluated by a doctor 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:

If you’re not sure if your cut needs stitches or other medical attention, it’s always a good idea to err on the side of safety. With walk-in services at all three of our Los Angeles locations, you can get the care you need quickly and without delay.

You can schedule a visit with Essential Medical Clinic by booking an appointment online or over the phone. We also take walk-ins and offer telehealth appointments.

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