Signs That Stitches Are Needed

If a cut or laceration hurts and is bleeding a lot, it is certainly cause for concern. But how much does a cut have to bleed before you know whether you or your child will need stitches?

There are some tell-tale signs that a cut will need to be stitched up, and our AFC Urgent Care Sevierville team highlights them below.

  • Here’s what to do: Evaluate the size of the laceration. The size of your laceration, which includes length and depth, is an important indicator of whether it needs stitches. The wound will need to be stitched up if it’s deeper or longer than half an inch, it’s deep enough that fatty tissue, muscle or bone is exposed and/or it’s wide or gaping.

  • What to do next: Monitor the amount the cut is bleeding. A laceration that is bleeding profusely and doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure likely requires stitches.

  • Also: Where is the cut? Cuts on certain parts of the body, like the joints, head, hand and near the genitals, increase the likelihood of sutures. Additionally, cuts on or across a joint will likely need to be stitched up, especially if the wound opens when the joint is moved.

  • One more thing to keep in mind: How was the laceration caused? The causes of some lacerations make stitches more important. Wounds and lacerations caused by animal bites have a higher infection rate, so they will sometimes require antibiotics in addition to stitches.

  • What to do after: If you feel like you or your child’s laceration requires stitches, visit our AFC center right away to avoid infection or excessive blood loss.

  • Another important tip: Watch out for signs of infection. If there are things like redness around the laceration, increased swelling, pus, drainage or red streaks spreading out from the wound, it’s likely that it’s infected and will need both antibiotics and stitches.

  • Action steps to take: Following a laceration, there are some things you can do to doctor the wound before getting stitches. These things include applying pressure using a clean cloth or bandage and elevating the injured area, gently washing the wound with soap and water without scrubbing when the bleeding stops and covering the laceration with gauze or a bandage.

  • Doctor recommendations: It’s best to seek medical attention immediately for lacerations that make you think twice. Even if you don’t know whether your laceration needs to be stitched up, getting the correct diagnosis is the best thing to do for your health.

It can be tough to know when to get stitches. Do your best to stay calm, apply direct pressure to the wound and visit our AFC Urgent Care Sevierville center ASAP to get the necessary treatment!