You’re chopping food for dinner and slice your finger by accident, but how bad is it really? Or maybe your child steps on a sharp object while on the playground and has a large gash on his foot. Can you just clean it up and wrap it in a bandage or is it severe enough to require stitches?
Basic scratches are easily taken care of at home with simple cleaning and first aid, but you may not be sure what to do about deeper cuts. So, before you jump in the car and head to Kingwood Emergency Hospital, here are a few suggestions to tell if your cut warrants stitches. But before we go further, what exactly are stitches?
Stitches in the skin are like those in our clothes — a run of thread that holds things together. They’re made from lots of different materials. Some stitches will need to be removed by a doctor in aftercare and some, like the ones used for mouth injuries or C-Section deliveries, dissolve on their own. Dissolvable stitches are made from natural materials, such as processed collagen (animal intestines), hair or silk, as well as some synthetic materials that can allow the body to dissolve the stitches over time. Most of the time, by the time the stitches are dissolved, the wound is completely healed.
Here are reasons that a cut needs stitches:
1. Depth of the Wound
First and foremost, how deep is your wound? If it’s just a small or shallow cut in the skin, it should heal quickly on its own without complications. However, if the size is about one-quarter of an inch deep, you will likely need stitches. This kind of wound will bleed freely. Apply pressure with sterile gauze or a clean cloth and seek medical attention.
2. The Appearance of the Wound
This one should be easily identified. If you investigate the wound and can see bone, tendons, or deep skin tissue, you must get immediate medical attention at an ER hospital. Some deep gashes may need a tourniquet to prevent the patient from “bleeding out”, a serious life-threatening situation. If the patient is bleeding profusely, applying a tourniquet is a reasonable precaution. Knowing how is a life-saving precaution. It is important for sports teams and organizations to have those in leadership positions such as school teachers, athletic coaches or trainers be certified in first-aid so that they are prepared to deal with how and when to use a tourniquet.
3. Location of the Wound on Body
If the cut is located at a joint and close to delicate tissue such as the mouth, eye or artery, immediate closure will be required for proper healing and to mitigate long-term damage. Joints are particularly difficult to mend since they are in constant motion and require elasticity.
4. The Cut is Made by a Rusty or Dirty Object
For some wounds, you may need a tetanus shot as well as stitches. Tetanus is one of the standard shots for children that they receive as part of their standard immunization schedule. Adults need a booster every 10 years. According to our Board Certified ER Physician, Dr. Kim Waaso, “Wounds caused by animal bites or dirty objects can be at a higher risk for infection. In such cases, patients may need a tetanus booster and antibiotics along with stitches.”
About Kingwood Emergency Hospital
As parents and caregivers, a bleeding wound is always cause for concern. At Kingwood Emergency Hospital, we are standing by to take care of any wound that needs emergency care. We even have a pediatric suite to handle scary situations and provide comfort and care to our littlest patients. Parents can be sure their child will be treated as a VIP at Kingwood Emergency Hospital. Come and see how different we are!
If you would like more information about a free CPR + First Aid class for your organization, contact the hospital at (832) 777-6165, or visit our website for already scheduled classes: https://kingwood247er.com/events/