Small cuts, bruises, skinned knees, animal scratches, and puncture wounds are a fact of life. While many of these injuries can be safely treated at home, others may need urgent medical attention. If you’ve suffered a cut or laceration that you think is serious enough for stitches, you might be wondering where to go for care. Can urgent care do stitches for your injury, or does it require an emergency room? The answer is that it depends.
How to know if a cut requires stitches
The first question you need to answer is, “Does my cut need stitches?” When in doubt, it’s best to get a professional opinion from an experienced medical professional. And it’s best to seek treatment within a couple of hours after the injury takes place to lower your risk of infection. Here are a few warning signs that indicate your cut may need stitches:
- The cut or surrounding area feels numb
- The cut is very deep, uneven, long, or open
- The cut will not stop bleeding or close, even after direct pressure is applied
- The cut is in a sensitive area like the genitalia or face
- The cut is a result of a bite or impact with a foreign object
- The cut is on a joint
- The cut presents cosmetic concerns
When to visit an emergency room for a cut
Knowing when to seek emergency care for a cut is very important. Here are a few examples of cuts that require emergency room treatment:
- Deep cuts or tears with uneven edges
- Cuts located on the hands, fingers, face, scalp, or a joint
- Cuts with exposed veins and/or muscles
- Cuts with an embedded object
- Cuts with excessive bleeding that won’t stop despite applying constant pressure
- Cuts that do not stay together
- Cuts resulting from animal or human bites
When to visit urgent care for a cut
Here are a few examples of cuts that can be treated at an urgent care clinic:
- Straight cuts
- Shallow cuts
- Infected cuts
- Cuts with embedded dirt
- Cuts that were caused by a rusty or dirty object (and the object is not embedded)
In most cases, you will need to return to urgent care or the emergency room to have your stitches removed. If you’d like your primary care physician to remove your stitches once your wound has healed, then be sure to talk to your urgent care doctor first.
Will I need a tetanus or rabies shot?
Depending on how you got cut, and your immunization history, you may need to get a tetanus or rabies shot to protect you from developing a serious illness. You can get a tetanus or rabies vaccination at your local urgent care.
Tetanus is a rare but serious bacterial infection caused by soil, dust, and manure that can be fatal if left untreated. Rabies is a deadly viral infection commonly spread through the saliva of infected animals and causes progressive and fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
General first aid for minor cuts
If you’ve suffered a minor cut, scrape or bruise, follow these guidelines to safely caring for them at home:
- Wash your hands to avoid infection
- Remove any debris from the wound by flushing it with cool water to lower the risk of infection
- Apply gentle pressure to the wound to help stop bleeding
- Once the wound stops bleeding, apply an antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly to keep the wound moist and prevent scarring
- Cover the wound with a clean bandage to help keep it clean and change it at least once per day
- Visit Amory Urgent Care if see signs of infection like redness, swelling, increased pain, or drainage
Visit Amory Urgent Care when you need urgent medical treatment for moderate to severe cuts and bruises. We welcome walk-in appointments 7 days a week.