It can be hard to know what injuries require stitches, and don’t. It’s important to establish what stitches do first — they close wounds, and promote healing. Stitches also reduce scarring and make sure there are no side effects from the original wound. So when do you need to get stitches?
If the wound is deep, or particularly long (longer than an inch), that’s a good sign to go to an urgent care facility. If you can see bone or joint, get yourself looked at right away. And finally, if the wound appears small or insignificant, but won’t stop bleeding, get it checked out anyway. If you arrive at urgent care and it’s clear you don’t need stitches, you’ll just be sent home with a bandage. But if you make the choice not to go to urgent care and the wound continues, you’re looking at increased rates of infection and possible loss of movement.
If your wound does need stitches, the process is fairly quick and painless. A painkiller may be administered for regular stitches and staples, and your doctor or nurse will protect the wound area with bandages or gauze. Pay close attention to wound care instructions for your stitches. Generally, this includes regular ointment application, avoiding water and moisture on the wound area, no intense physical activity and other specialized instructions.
Don’t be afraid to get yourself checked out if you think you may need it!