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5 signs you need stitches

Summer months mean more time puttering in the garden and playing outdoors. But summer fun also means an increased risk of cuts and abrasions, whether from a mishap with the pruning shears or a wipe-out at the skate park or along the bike trail.

While most  scrapes and minor cuts can be cleaned, bandaged and taken care of at home, a deep gash or wound might require professional medical attention to ensure proper healing and reduce the risk of infection. But it’s not always obvious when a cut or wound needs stitches. Here are a few factors that may help you make the call.  

1. Size

If the cut or wound is deeper or longer than half an inch, you’ll likely need stitches.

2. Appearance

If the injury is wide or gaping, or you see muscle, bone or fatty tissue, you’ll need immediate medical care and stitches.

3. Location

Where it’s at is key to whether or not you need stitches. A wound across a joint, on the face, on or near the eye, or on the genitals requires immediate medical attention.

4. Cause

Some cuts and wounds pose a greater risk for infection or other diseases, so you’ll want to get them checked out and closed up quickly. If your injury is from a bite or scratch, you may also need a tetanus booster or antibiotics.

Puncture wounds and cuts from a rusty or contaminated object, or any wound that contains debris, such as gravel or broken glass, should be evaluated by a medical provider.

5. Bleeding

Regardless of how an injury looks or how it happened, profuse and prolonged bleeding probably means you need stitches.  

When to go to Indigo Urgent Care

MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care is here to clean and treat your minor cuts and scrapes, including lacerations that require stitches. Visit your nearby Indigo location for the following:

  • Straight cuts that have edges you can easily push together
  • Shallow facial cuts
  • Cuts or abrasions that have embedded dirt
  • Bites from an animal or human that are not very deep
  • Cuts that aren’t serious but were caused by rusty and dirty objects

Your injury may be more serious. Go to an emergency department if:

  • The cut is long, deep or gaping.
  • Bleeding is heavy or will not stop after applying direct pressure for 10 minutes.
  • The cut or abrasion is on your genitalia, or on or near your eye.
  • You have numbness or tingling around the area of the wound.
  • A foreign object is stuck in the wound.  

Care you need, right away

Indigo Health is open from 8 am to 8 pm, seven days a week to provide prompt care for adults and children with minor injuries and illnesses.

If your injury is severe or life-threatening, go to your nearest emergency room right away. If you suspect you may need stitches for a minor cut or abrasion, find an Indigo location near you.


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