“Uh oh. You’re going to need stitches for that.”
That is certainly one phrase no one wants to hear. While scraping a knee is one thing, an open wound is something entirely different. But how do you know if you actually do need stitches? Is it size of the cut? Or is the location important? Does how deep the cut is matter? What if it’s not bleeding? Does it matter how the cut happened? The answer, of course, is that all of the above factors need to be taken into consideration when deciding on whether or not to stitch up a wound.
What types of “wounds” are there?
Generally, you have four different types of wounds
- abrasions – think of the classic scraped elbow
- punctures – a nail through your flip flop or a dog bite
- lacerations – a deep cut, like a knife slice
- avulsions – the skin is removed or torn away
Believe it or not, doctors end up suturing a lot of relatively smaller wounds more for cosmetic purposes, as it reduces scarring. Scalp wounds (lots of blood vessels) and cuts to areas of the body that move and flex more than others (for instance, your ribcage or abdomen as opposed to your forearm) are also likely candidates for stitches. If you have excessive bleeding or can see the fatty tissue under the outer layer of skin – or anything else you normally should not be seeing, like muscle or bone – you almost certainly need stitches. They’ll hold the skin together and help stop the bleeding.
Probably the most important thing to do with any wound is to keep it as clean as possible. An infection can end up being much worse than the original injury. If you’re a diabetic, received some type of bite wound, or can’t get the bleeding to stop or seem to get the wound clean, you should immediately get to a doctor. Our fourteen AppleCare clinics around southeast Georgia all have extended hours and walk-in service for just such an emergency, and we can get you stitched up in no time.