If your child cuts themself enough to bleed, the first thing to do is determine if stitches are necessary. Many people make the mistake of thinking that all cuts that bleed need stitches, but this isn’t always true. How do you know if a cut needs stitches? This is a question that many people ask, and it can be difficult to determine the answer. If you are not sure whether or not a cut needs stitches, it is always best to err on the side of caution and see a doctor. Deep cuts can often lead to infection if left untreated.
What are Stitches?
Stitches in your skin are like those in your clothes, in that they are a continuous thread that keeps everything together. They’re constructed of a variety of fabrics, including nylon and silk. Some, such as those used to treat mouth injuries, disintegrate on their own. Stitches are crucial when you need them because they provide you support and strength, while your skin closes and heals, reducing your risk of bleeding and infection and minimizing scars. (WebMD)
When Do Children Need Stitches?
If a cut is still bleeding after 5 minutes of pressure and is gaping or broad, stitches are needed. If the wound appears to be deep, is on the face, lips, or neck of your child, contains glass or other debris, has something protruding from it, such as a twig or has blood spurts, this is an emergency. It’s critical to apply immediate pressure to the wound with a clean towel. As quickly as possible, the wound should be examined in an emergency room. (KidsHealth, 2019)
What You Need to Know Before Your ER Visit
Here’s what you should know if you decide to visit an emergency department for wounds that need stitches:
- Do not touch alien objects: Do not remove any foreign objects stuck in the wound, such as a stick or a piece of metal. You have no idea what the alien item has hit struck underneath. It’s possible that the item is blocking bleeding in case the item has nicked an artery; removing it can have serious consequences.
- Bite wounds and unclean wounds require special attention: If an animal bite has a laceration that is more than a very superficial abrasion — or the injury was caused by a contaminated or rusted object – seek medical help at once. If you’re an adult, you’ll need a tetanus booster vaccine if you haven’t had one in the last 10 years. Oral antibiotics may be prescribed by the attending physician.
- Clean the wound if you can: If possible, gently clean the damaged area before going to the emergency room by irrigating it well. To do this, doctors recommend using tap water and a dilute liquid antibacterial soap. Almost any wound can be cleaned with this method.
- Avoid food and water: Before going to the ER, doctors advise parents to avoid giving an injured child anything to eat or drink. If they have recently eaten anything, the trauma of the emergency may cause them to vomit, exacerbating the stressful situation. It’s also a good idea to avoid meals if they need to take any sedatives or anxiety drugs.
- Elevate and apply direct pressure: Apply direct pressure and elevate the wounded region on the route to the hospital or clinic. Most bleeding will be slowed or stopped if you do this. Above all, keep your cool and drive safely. You don’t want to make things worse by getting pulled over for speeding or, even worse, getting into an accident.
(Cleveland Clinic, 2021)
When to Head to the ER
Wounds like this can often lead to complications if untreated. If you have any doubts about whether or not a needs stitches, it is always better to seek medical attention when in doubt. A medical professional will be able to properly assess the situation and determine whether or not you need stitches. This will also ensure that your cut heals properly and does not become infected.
“When Does a Cut Need Stitches? (for Parents) – Nemours Kidshealth.” Edited by Kate M. Cronan, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, Nov. 2019, kidshealth.org/en/parents/stitches.html.
“Stitches for Cuts, Punctures, and Bites.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/first-aid/does-this-cut-need-stitches.
Team, Family Health. “Does Your Cut Need Stitches? Find out How to Tell.” Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, 30 Dec. 2021, health.clevelandclinic.org/does-your-cut-need-stitches-find-out-how-to-tell-2/.