What to do if you have cuts requiring stitches
Your skin can get cut in many ways, from working in the kitchen making dinner to working with tools to playing sports or falling in a playground. The first thing that you should do if you cut yourself is to clean the cut with cold running water. If there is bleeding, apply compression to the cut using a clean cloth. If the cut is in an extremity bleeding can also be controlled by elevating that extremity.
The first question that many people have after they cut themselves is if they should go see a doctor. If the cut is deep, meaning more than a simple abrasion or scrape, it may need stitches and a doctor should look at it to determine if it does. It is important to see a doctor sooner than later since many cuts do not qualify for sutures or stitches to be placed after 12 hours since there is a greater chance of an infection occurring.
Most cuts that require stitches can easily be taken care of in urgent care or walk-in clinics that offer such services. Depending on the depth, location and type of cut a doctor in a walk-in urgent care can wash it further, give you a local anesthetic similar to what dentists use to numb the cut. This way when stitches or sutures are placed, you will not feel the needle. The wound then may need to be wrapped to keep it clean.
Some cuts may not require stitches but may be a candidate to be closed by a medical glue that closes the skin together. The doctor at the urgent care or walk in clinic can determine which cuts can be closed using this method. Furthermore most cuts on the head (scalp not the face) are usually fixed with staples also after a local anesthetic is placed.
Whether you end up getting stitches, medical glue or staples it is important to understand that some amount of scar should be expected. Once skin is cut, it loses its strength and elasticity, the body tries to heal this loss of tissue by forming new connective tissue which in essence is a scar. So scar formation is the bodyâ€™s normal way to heal cuts even if you have stitches.
At home the sutures should be kept dry for the first 24 hours. You many need to apply an antibiotic ointment as well. Your doctor will inform you when you should return for the stitches or staples to be removed. Sometimes cuts can get infected. Everyone has bacteria on their skin, anytime there is a cut the bacteria can go inside and cause an infection. This usually does not occur however even after cleaning cuts well and under the best medical management 5 percent of cuts can get infected. Signs to watch out for at home for infected cut include redness, swelling, more pain, pus, fevers or red streaking. If you see any of these signs you must return to the doctor right away.
If you live in New York City (NYC) or in the NYC area, and need urgent medical care for a cut or many other conditions - City MD Urgent Care is there for you. You do not need an appointment, and at City MD the goal is to treat you immediately on a no-waiting basis.