When do you need to get stitches, how to care for them, and when to remove them
Accidents happen all the time. No matter the age, no matter the place – accidents are expected. Sometimes a simple trip or fall can have a more disastrous effect than a minor cut or scrape that can heal itself. Serious cuts or lacerations will require stitches to piece the skin back together and expedite a minimal scaring, infection-free healing.
When Are Stitches Needed
Sometimes, it is not easy to determine if a cut needs stitches or not. The decision to stitch up a cut should be made by an expert medical professional, especially if:
- The cut is deep, jagged, or gaping
- The cut is on an area where scarring may be an issue, like the face
- The cut bleeds profusely even with applied pressure
- The area around and directly on the cut feels numb
- The cut affects normal body movements
For most puncture wounds, stitches are not used. However, an expert medical professional should still look at the wound site.
What to Expect When Getting Stitches
Stitches can be thought of as a needle and thread used to “stitch” a wound back together. Although it’s natural to feel a little anxious, this is usually a painless process or a process made less painful with local anesthesia.
An expert physician’s first step is to inspect the cut for debris and then wash the cut and the area to ensure no infection. Next, the type of surgical thread is selected to match the injury site and the depth of the cut. Here are the different types of stitches:
- Nonabsorbable or Regular Stitches – which must be removed by a doctor
- Dissolvable Stitches – which will be absorbed by the body’s natural chemicals without the need for a doctor
Surgical stitches are typically silk or nylon. Also, some doctors may hold cuts together by:
- Skin Glue – which falls off on its own
- Adhesive Tape or Strips – which fall off on their own
- Metal Staples – which must be removed by an expert medical professional
How to Care for Stitches
Your medical professional will give you specific instructions on care for your stitches and what to expect in the healing process. For a minimal scar and a smooth healing process, it is important to follow the steps given by the medical professional. (It is important to note that scaring is almost unavoidable, however, proper care after the duration of the stitches will determine scaring appearance.)
Stitches are typically to be kept dry, as moisture halts the healing process. Some patients are given pain medication to take or an antibiotic ointment to use.
If you notice a stitch has popped, discoloration, or fever around the wound site, please visit your doctor immediately.
When Are Stitches Removed
How long it takes for a wound to heal varies from person to person. The only person that can tell if it is time to remove the stitches is a medical professional. Do not try to remove stitches on your own! This may affect the healing process or cause an infection at the wound site.
Looking For The Perfect Stitch?
There is no such thing as a perfect stitch, but at Tucson ER & Hospital, our expert medical personnel is skilled in exceptional and almost perfect care. For stitches during the time of an emergency situation that leads to deep cuts and lacerations, come to our premier medical facility – open 24/47/365.
Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Tucson ER & Hospital and Nutex Health state no content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.