Understanding Cuts & Scrapes
A cut or laceration results in broken skin and bleeding. A scrape simply scratches the surface of the skin, and while there may be bleeding, the skin has not been sliced through. Most scrapes and minor cuts will heal with at-home care like antibacterial cream and bandages. For deeper cuts, stitches are essential to help close the wound and to reduce scar size and healing time.
Examining your cut carefully will help to determine the best plan of action to ensure proper healing.
Common Reasons for Stitches
If your cut meets any of the following criteria, it’s best to seek medical attention as you may need stitches:
● The cut is longer or appears deeper than half an inch.
● The cut is on a joint where use or bending may reopen the wound, like a knuckle or elbow
● The bleeding lasts over 10 minutes without letting up
● There is blood spurting from the wound (indicating damage to an artery)
If your cut is deep and meets any of the above criteria, seek medical attention to determine whether or not you require stitches and any other intervention.
How to prevent cuts
Cuts occur as a part of everyday life – broken glass, a slippery knife, or even opening a can result in a deep cut. Some daily ways to help prevent cuts include:
● Using proper safety equipment and wearing protective gear suited to the task at hand
● Staying aware of sharp or potentially hazardous items in the vicinity
● Extending the utmost care when handling sharp objects like knives or scissors.
While steering clear of injury is not always possible, knowing how to care for your cut is an effective way to avoid further damage and infection.
First, wash or sanitize your hands to lessen the likelihood of contracting an infection. Next, work to staunch the bleeding. With a sterile cloth or bandage, apply firm pressure to your cut and elevate the injured area above your heart. If the bleeding doesn’t stop after 10 minutes, now is the time to check in with a clinician to see if stitches are necessary.
Once the bleeding has stopped, clean the cut. Hydrogen peroxide is not actually the best option because it can irritate the skin, which makes it harder for your body to heal. Instead, gently clean the cut with soap and running water. Finish the job by applying antibacterial cream and a bandage. If your cut is minor and doesn’t need stitches, your body should do the rest of the healing work at this point. Just take care to keep the wound clean by changing the bandage as needed (but at least once a day) as the cut heals.
If you’ve been cut by something that’s dirty or rusty, like an old piece of metal, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re up to date on your tetanus vaccination. If it’s been 5 or more years since your last booster, you can get one at urgent care, preferably within 2 days of the time of the injury.
The faster your cut heals the less likely you are to have a scar, so acting fast is key. Some ways to help your cut heal faster and reduce the likelihood of scarring include:
● Keeping your cut moist by covering it with a bandaid. Especially in the first few days after, it may be useful to apply a thin film of antibacterial ointment. Keeping the wound environment moist is an important factor to help the cut heal faster and reduce scabbing (scabs can lead to more severe scarring)
● If your doctor thinks they’re necessary, getting stitches to help your wound heal faster
● Keep the area clean by washing the wound and applying a clean bandage each day to help prevent your cut from becoming infected
● Don’t scratch or pick at the wound as it heals, even if it’s itchy
Signs of Infection
If the cut gets inflamed, gets worse, or the pain doesn’t lessen after a few days, you may have an infection. Infection can occur whether or not you receive stitches. In most cases, caring for a minor infection is simply keeping the area clean and dry. But it’s always a good idea to get a potential infection checked out – infections that don’t go away can lead to a whole host of issues like increased pain, longer healing times, or even cellulitis.
If you’re still not sure whether you need stitches, you can schedule a telehealth visit from the comfort of your own home. Based on what your clinician can see and the description you provide, he or she will determine whether or not an in-person visit is necessary. If it isn’t, you’ll get advice on how to care for your cut at home.
With urgent care, you’ll also encounter shorter wait times than ER, and convenient hours mean that you won’t need to try and work around your primary doctor’s schedule.
Like cutting your own hair, it’s best not to remove stitches on your own. vybe can remove your sutures, even if you were initially stitched up elsewhere.
There are some stitches that will actually dissolve on their own. If your doctor uses this kind of stitch, you will receive advice as to how long before they should disintegrate.
For minor to moderate cuts, stitch removal, and infection treatment, come to vybe for quick, convenient care. We can stitch you up and have you feeling better in no time.