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No matter how careful you are, it’s inevitable that cuts will happen. Cuts are breaks in the skin caused by sharp objects, which can be jagged or straight, at the surface or deeper.

Cuts can put you at risk for infection, and if you have a deep cut it may require stitches. But what’s considered a deep cut and what can easily be treated at home? Read on to find out.

When to get stitches

Sometimes it might be difficult to determine if your cut needs stitches. If you aren’t sure, it’s best to seek medical attention. If a cut does require stitches, it should be done within six to eight hours. Some signs that your cut may need medical attention include:

  • The opening of the cut is gaping
  • The wound does not stop bleeding after 10 minutes of applying pressure
  • A foreign object is embedded, which needs to be removed by a healthcare provider
  • The wound is more than a quarter-inch deep, exposes the yellow fatty tissue below the skin or it reaches bone
  • The cut is over a joint, and the edges open when you move the joint
  • The injury is deep and on your hand or finger
  • The cut is on the face or an area where you don’t want to have a scar
  • The wound is caused by an animal or human bite or a rusty or unclean object

Call 911 for emergency care if:

  • Bleeding is severe and can’t be stopped after 10 minutes of firm and steady pressure
  • You suspect internal bleeding
  • The laceration is in the abdomen or chest
  • Blood spurts out of wound

How to care for stitches

If your cut is severe enough to require stitches, it’s important that you take good care of the wound. Your provider should give you instructions on how to take care of your stitches, but some general advice includes keeping the wound dry and not removing the bandage for the first 48 hours. In addition:

  • Ask the provider when it’s safe to remove the bandage so you can gently wash the area to remove the crust.
  • Once it’s safe, most providers will recommend that you wash the wound using water twice a day.
  • Avoid using hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol, which may slow down the healing process.
  • Once you get the OK from your provider, you can use a thin layer of petroleum jelly to cover the wound and keep it moist.
  • It’s common for the wound to begin itching once the area starts to dry out—it’s important to not scratch it. 

When to remove stitches

Your provider will let you know when it is safe to remove your stitches. It will depend on the severity of the wound, its location and how quickly it seems to be healing. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Face – stitches on the face are usually removed within four to five days
  • Arm – those on the arm may need five to 10 days
  • Feet, legs, chest, abdomen, back and over a joint – stitches in these locations can require up to 14 days to fully heal

Does removing stitches hurt?

When it’s time to remove your stitches, you will need to revisit your provider. Fortunately, removing stitches is a much faster and easier process than putting them in.

Although you might feel a slight tugging sensation, removing stitches should not hurt at all. In fact, you shouldn’t even need an anesthetic. While it may seem simple enough to remove them on your own, it is important that you have a provider do it.

At that time, he or she will look at your wound to make sure it’s healing properly. You can also take this opportunity to ask your provider for any tips that may help minimize scarring.

How to tell if a cut is infected

Cuts can easily become infected, and those caused by bites or unclean objects or on the feet are at a higher risk. If your cut appears to be infected, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Signs of an infected cut include:

  • Warmth or heat around the wound
  • Redness in the area
  • Throbbing and swelling
  • Fever
  • Drainage of any pus-like substance

You can lower the risk of your cut becoming infected by following these guidelines:

  • Keep the area clean
  • Wash your hands with antibacterial soap and water before changing the bandage or dressing
  • Change the dressing regularly

How much does it cost to get stitches? 

According to a 2013 article in the New York Times, receiving stitches in a hospital emergency room may cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,500. Urgent care clinics are typically a fraction of the cost.

See what insurances CareNow® Urgent Care accepts in your state.

Can urgent care provide stitches?

Urgent care clinics are convenient options if you think you need stitches. Not only can you get in and out more quickly, you will likely pay less than a visit to the emergency room.

CareNow® accepts most insurance plans to ensure you get the best service at the lowest cost. In order for us to file your claim, you will need to bring a valid ID and proof of insurance to your visit. It’s important to note that the insurance plans we accept may vary from state to state.

You can check which plans are accepted in your region on our website. Don’t have insurance? Don’t worry, we offer competitive self-pay rates as well.

If a major and life-threatening laceration has occurred, dial 911 for emergency care at your local hospital.

CareNow® can help with minor injuries

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Disclaimer: Patient’s health can vary. While this content was approved for publishing by a board certified medical director, always consult with your personal medical professional first before deciding that any medical advice from the internet is right for you.


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