The Treatment of Cuts or Wounds Should Be Taken Seriously

DAYTON, Ohio (November 9, 2017) – Our skin is perhaps one of the softest, yet strongest, shells our body could have for its outer armor, but that doesn’t mean it is immune from the effects of the outside world.

Even the slightest cut can be an invitation for infection or long-term scarring, which is why immediate attention and evaluation for possible stitches is important, said Susan Davis-Brown, MD, a family physician with Brookville Family Care and Englewood After Hours Care.

“Not all cuts require stitches,” said Dr. Davis-Brown, who practices with Premier Physician Network. “But it’s important to understand the need for stitches is based off of much more than the way the cut may look. There are many factors that play into the need to close a cut with stitches.”

A cut is a break or opening in the skin and is often referred to as a laceration. A cut may be deep, smooth or jagged, and can be near the surface of the skin or deeper. Some cuts can affect tendons, muscles, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels and bone, which is why proper care is extremely important, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Dr. Davis-Brown often sees patients come into the After Hours clinic with cuts. Sometimes cuts can be cleaned and closed through the help of Steri-Strips or glue, but other times they require the added help given with stitches. She recommends individuals keep the following in mind when determining if their cut is a candidate for stitches.

Depth of the cut – Look for how deep the cut has gone into the skin. Cuts that expose tendons or deep tissue need to be evaluated immediately by a medical professional.

Breadth of the wound – Cuts that result in a gaping wound should be taken seriously. A good way to test this is to gently see if the separated skin will easily come back together. If not, stitches will likely be needed for proper healing.

Volume of blood – Some cuts may not be very deep, but still produce a lot of blood that can’t be easily stopped. Stitches usually are required to stop bleeding.

Cleanliness of the area – Cuts that happen on an area of skin that was not very clean or sanitized prior to the accident may need proper cleaning followed by stitches in order to reduce the risk of infection.

Remnants of foreign objects – Carefully evaluate the cut to see if any foreign objects are inside. This can come from the object which caused the cut or from the environment. 

Location of the wound – There are certain areas of the body that require special attention for a cut. This includes faces and areas crucial to the body’s range of motion such as a hand.

The NIH says cuts should not be handled lightly, and recommends against attempting to do the following: removing an object that has been lodged in the cut, pushing organs or parts back into the body that may be protruding from the wound, and breathing on an open wound.

There are ways to reduce the risk of cuts or decrease the severity of those that do happen. Start by keeping knives, scissors, sharp objects, and fragile items out of reach of children, the NIH said. Also, make sure adults and children are up-to-date on vaccinations including the tetanus vaccine, which should be given every 10 years.

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