When you sustain a run-of-the-mill cut on your finger, arm, or ankle, you’re probably accustomed to covering it up with an adhesive bandage and letting your body heal this wound on its own. But with larger cuts, additional medical care may be necessary. If you’re dealing with a particularly deep cut, are stitches always necessary? And where should you go for treatment? We’re answering those questions today.

How do I know if my cut needs stitches?While it’s best to seek out the professional opinion of medical personnel to determine whether a wound needs stitches, there are a few hallmarks to look for. Your cut may need stitches if:

  • The cut or area feels numb
  • The cut is very deep, jagged, long, or gaping
  • The cut keeps bleeding or won’t close, even after direct pressure is applied
  • The cut is located on the face, genitalia, or other sensitive area
  • The cut occurred from a bite or involved a foreign object
  • The cut is located over a joint
  • The cut presents cosmetic concerns

However, you may not need stitches if the cut is a puncture wound or the cut is very shallow and has smooth edges. As we mentioned, it’s best to seek out medical attention if you are unsure.

Should I go to an urgent care clinic or to the ER for stitches?If you’ve determined that your cut is serious enough for stitches, you may be wondering where you should go for care. The type of medical treatment you seek for stitches really depends on the circumstances: namely, how serious the cut is and where it’s located.

Knowing when to seek emergency care for a cut is essential. If your cut is extremely deep, is spurting bright red blood, has torn edges, is located on a joint, exposes muscles or veins, is bleeding profusely even after applying pressure, is located on the face or scalp, or contains an embedded object, you will likely need to go to an ER to get stitches.

That said, urgent care clinics can provide wound care when stitches are required in a number of situations. In many cases, straight cuts, shallow cuts, cuts with embedded dirt, or cuts that were caused by rusty or dirty objects (but are not serious and do not contain these foreign objects) can be treated by the staff at your urgent care center.

If you’re in doubt about when to seek emergency care or want to err on the side of caution, it’s best to head to the 24 hour walk in clinic closest to you to be assessed there by medical staff. Fortunately, 92% of urgent care clinics maintained wait times of 30 minutes or less in 2015, which means you can obtain a quick assessment and/or fast treatment. Usually, visits like these may not involve life-threatening injuries, so it’s very possible that they may be able to treat your cut right there. It helps if your urgent care clinic is actually located in the same building as an ER; that way, you don’t even really have to guess when to seek emergency care, as you’ll be in close proximity to an ER in the event you should need it.

Knowing when to seek emergency care for deep cuts is important. However, with urgent care and emergency care all under one roof, you don’t have to choose between the two. At Legacy ER, we can provide convenient care for true emergencies and urgent medical situations alike. For more information, please contact us today.