When Should You Go to an Emergency Center? When Lacerations Require Stitches

Everyone gets scrapes, skinned knees, bruises, and cuts from time to time. It is important to be able to determine when the wound is severe enough that it can require stitches and a visit to an emergency trauma center. There are several telltale signs to look for to help you decide if you need to see a doctor and find out if you need stitches or some other form of wound care treatment.


Signs You May Need Stitches

  • The cut is deep. If the cut extends below the skin, and you can see bone, tendon, or fatty tissue, which looks yellow, then you might need to get stitches.
  • You cannot press the cut closed or part of the skin is missing. If the space between where the cut is on the body has a gap, and the skin will no longer touch together or there is a section of skin missing, you will want to visit an urgent care center for treatment.
  • The cut is on a joint. Even if the cut does not appear that deep, if you can see the tendon or bone when you bend the joint, you need to have the wound looked at to see if there was potentially any other injury that requires treatment.
  • The cut is on the face, mouth, or nose. For wounds in these areas, there could possibly be scarring, which can be a cosmetic concern. Your emergency trauma center doctor can prescribe treatment to help prevent a noticeable scar.
  • The cut is near the eye or on the eyelid. A wound in this area could potentially have caused damage to the eye, especially if the cut is deep.
  • The bleeding will not stop after applying pressure to the wound. If the blood is not clotting and keeps flowing from the cut, you may need stitches to help stop the bleeding.
  • You have hemophilia. If you have this medical condition, you know while the cut will not bleed faster, it can bleed much longer. To get the bleeding to stop, you may require certain types of medications and treatments from an emergency care center.
  • You have any type of deep cut on the fingers, hands, or feet. Getting bleeding to stop in these areas can be difficult and could require stitches.
  • The wound was caused by a dirty or rusty object. You should seek medical care at an emergency center even if the cut does not require stitches. Dirty and rusty items can contain bacteria and viruses that could potentially cause various types of infections, including tetanus.
  • The cut is near or on the genitalia. Wounds in this area are prone to infections, and the bleeding may not stop without stitches or some other form of treatment.
  • The wound was caused by an animal bite or deep scratch. If you were bitten or scratched by a wild animal, the creature could have given you the rabies virus or other infectious diseases. For domesticated pets, you should still seek treatment, as there is still a risk of infection.
  • You were bitten by another person. While this might sound like something out of a vampire movie, there have been documented cases where one person has bitten another. Remember when Mike Tyson bit part of Evander Holyfield’s ear off? What about Beyoncé’s recent incident? There can be risks of infectious diseases that require antibiotics, as well as stitches to close the wound.
  • There appears to be dirt, debris, or other foreign objects in the wound. You will need to have the wound properly washed and sterilized by a doctor or nurse to remove these items to avoid infection.
  • The wound was caused by a foreign object that penetrated deep into the skin and is sticking out of it. Puncture wounds like these should still be looked at to make sure there was no internal damage done.
  • The wound or cut was the result of another type of injury. If you slammed your fingers or toes in a door or experienced an accident where the feet, hands, arms, legs, or another part of the body was smashed, you could have broken or fractured bones or experienced other internal injuries that need to be treated.

Preparing the Cut Before a Visit to a 24-Hour Emergency Care Center

There are several dos and don’ts of proper cut and wound care prior to visiting a 24-hour emergency center.

  • Do rinse the wound with clean water and wash the area gently with an antibacterial soap. Washing the cut could help remove dirt and other debris. Only do this if you have time to do so and there is not a foreign object stuck in the skin.
  • Do wrap the wound with a sterile bandage or gauze and apply pressure. You want to apply pressure to the cut to help slow the bleeding.
  • Do elevate the location of the body where the cut is located if possible. If the cut is on the hands, fingers, or arms, raise them up. For cuts on the legs, feet, or toes, raise the leg up to chair level height or higher. Elevating the wound helps slow bleeding.
  • Do have someone else drive you if at all possible. You can easily be distracted by the pain, throbbing, and bleeding of the wound, which could take your mind off driving. Plus, you may drive more erratically because you feel a sense of urgency. It is better to ask a family member, neighbor, or friend to drive you so you will arrive safely.
  • Don’t remove any foreign objects from the site of the wound. It is better to leave any foreign object in place until you can be examined by a doctor. The object could have punctured an artery and, if you remove it, you may not be able to stop the bleeding. Not to mention, this could result in a life-threatening situation.
  • Do call 911 if the wound is spurting out blood uncontrollably, apply direct pressure, and elevate. Wounds that spurt blood are often indicative of an opening in an artery. These cuts are considered life-threatening, and you should call 911. It is equally important to apply direct pressure and elevate the part of the body where the cut is located.
  • Don’t use hydrogen peroxide to clean the cut. Hydrogen peroxide is not an effective wound cleaner, and it can cause tissue damage, along with a burning sensation.
  • Don’t eat or drink anything other than water. You may need to be given different types of numbing agents before the cut can be stitched closed. Eating food and drinking anything besides water could result in your potentially vomiting or having to wait longer for the medication to take effect.
  • Don’t second guess yourself. If you are in doubt about whether you need stitches or not, it is better to go to a 24-hour emergency center for an evaluation.

For non-life threatening cuts, wounds, and scrapes that require stitches or other wound treatments, you do not have to go a hospital’s emergency room (ER) in Texas when there is an Exceptional Emergency Center nearby.

All of our Texas locations are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays, for emergency care treatments like stitches. We also treat sprains, strains, broken and fractured bones, sports injuries, insect bites and stings, and other such conditions. In addition, we offer imaging and lab services, including x-rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds, as well as COLA-certified stat lab testing.

For immediate medical conditions that require stitches or other non-life-threatening but emergency medical conditions, please feel free to stop by your nearest Exceptional Emergency Center location.

You may also contact our emergency trauma centers directly by calling:

  • Harlingen: 956-567-0371
  • East Chase: 817-566-0285
  • Livingston: 936-327-7000
  • Sachse: 469-202-8658