Know When You Need Stitches By Looking For These Signs

Know When You Need Stitches By Looking For These Signs

Some of us are more likely than others to end up with random cuts. Not all of those cuts need stitches though. The Wall Street Journal breaks down when you’ll need them.

Picture: Eric E Castro/Flickr

Speaking with Cleveland Clinic Emergency Services Institute’s vice chairman, Seth Podolsky, the Wall Street Journal offers this advice if you’re not sure you need to go to the doctor for stitches or not:

Before racing to the urgent-care center, look for certain signs, says Dr. Podolsky. Seeing bone, tendon, muscle or fatty tissue from a laceration should be cause for concern as should any cut wider than about ¾ of an inch [2cm]. Excessive bleeding that won’t stop, loss of sensation and a risk of foreign objects stuck inside the cut also signal a need for medical attention.

That said, some parts of the body are more suited for stitches than others:

Different parts of the body heal differently. “The scalp has a lot of blood vessels, so it’s good to sew up cuts there to stop bleeding,” Dr. Podolsky says. “We also stitch up facial injuries to keep the scar to a minimum and in a straight line.” Areas of the body that move a lot, like a knee, might also benefit from stitches. For the most part, though, “for a small, relatively superficial wound, the body will heal itself, and stitches are mostly for cosmetic reasons,” he says. In general, stitches need to be inserted within the first 12 hours of injury, because of infection risk.

Podolsky adds that if you’re in doubt, clean up the wound, bandage it and keep a close eye on it. If you’re concerned, head to the doctor.

When Does a Cut Need Stitches? [The Wall Street Journal]

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