How to know if I will need stitches or sutures for this cut?

One of the simplest rules to follow is that if the cut is deep or bleeding does not stop within 10 minutes, you should go to the emergency room or an afterhours urgent care center. If there is a lot of bleeding or you are unable to drive, have someone else drive you, or if you are alone, dial 911 and request emergency assistance to be dispatched to your location.

 Self-treatment of minor cuts and scrapes

 Everyday minor cuts and scrapes occur, and the simplest form of treatment should be to clean them with soap and water. Direct pressure should be used as it can usually stop bleeding from a small wound or cut. Find a clean cloth or paper towel and place it over the wound, then apply firm pressure with your hand. Keep a consistent firm pressure on the wound until the bleeding stops, which can take a few minutes. Above all, resist the urge to peek too soon. By continuing to peel back the dressing, you are relieving pressure and possibly removing some of the clotting that is slowing the bleeding.

 When wounds necessitate medical attention

Some wounds require an immediate evaluation by a medical provider, urgent care or emergency room professional. Some wounds, particularly those caused by animal bites, necessitate the use of antibiotics which require a prescription from a medical professional. Some wounds if not treated properly, can result in permanent disabilities to the area, or possible disfigurement, and long-term scarring if left untreated. It is better to be safe than sorry, so if the wound is questionable, always error on the side of caution and have the wound evaluated and treated as soon as possible after the injury. This reduces your risk of infection. Some experts recommend that a wound can still be evaluated within eight hours of the injury. This allows you to seek professional medical attention and opinions up to the next day if you are unsure of the original treatment. Professional Treatment can still reduce the chances of infection or long-term problems with proper wound care and suturing as needed.

Some wounds are more prone to infection than others, for example animal bites or a wound that occurs in a very dirty environment, could require the examination of a professional. Treatment could include thoroughly cleaning the wound, removing any foreign bodies, and starting a course of prophylactic antibiotics. After these preliminary treatments are completed, you will have to wait two or more days before the wound is sutured shut. This allows you to be evaluated for serious injury and infection that may not have been apparent at first.

 Scarring from wounds that were left to heal on their own instead of being sutured could result in significant scarring. Some of these wound scars can be treated by a plastic surgeon years after the initial injury, but it would be more expensive than treating the wound with stitches in the beginning.


Keep in mind that most minor wounds will heal on their own if you take proper care of them. Wash the area daily with soap and water to keep it clean. If you notice any new redness, swelling, or red streaking up your arm or leg, or if you have a fever, you should see your doctor right away.

Back to blog