Does My Cut Need Stitches?

This is advice I probably could have used several years ago when I sliced open my finger (see Can You Super Glue a Wound Closed? ). It’s actually pretty funny, and my finger turned out OK, but not knowing that I should have gotten stitches could have left me in a bigger predicament than I could have imagined. Learn how to tell the difference between a cut you can treat yourself and a cut that needs stitches, so you can know before you’re bleeding all over the place.

Blood flow can tell a whole lot about a cut. A cut that needs stitches is one that gushes blood (like my finger did), especially if you’ve been applying pressure. Squirting blood could mean an artery has been hit. Either way, if you can’t get that bleeding to stop, then you need stitches in your cut.

If the cut is on the face or the neck, then stitches are typically necessary. Even if the cut doesn’t look super bad, stitches are typically applied to protect the cut from scarring where the scar would be visible and to protect areas that have a high blood flow.

If the cut looks deep or has something stuck in it, like glass or another object, then don’t remove the object or assume the cut will be just fine. A gaping cut may or may not bleed a lot, but can cause nerve damage if it is not treated correctly. My finger not only bled all over the place, but half of my finger was cut into and I now don’t have any feeling where the cut actually was. Getting stitches may have prevented this. If the cut looks bad, then it very likely is.

Besides the fact that the cut may or may not need stitches is the safety issue so far as infection and other criteria that should be dealt with in a clinic or doctor’s office. A tetanus shot is typically given for cuts, even superficial ones, to err on the safe side. So if you’ve cut yourself, you may just want to head to the clinic whether you need stitches or not. But the common rule of thumb is this: if you can’t get the cut to stop bleeding, then it needs stitches. Plain and simple.


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