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When to Go to an Urgent Care for Stitches: 5 Signs You Need Medical Attention

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When to Go to an Urgent Care for Stitches: 5 Signs You Need Medical Attention

Acute wound care is a significant part of urgent care medicine. The CDC reports an average annual 8.6 million acute injuries from sports and recreation activities alone. And about 40% of these require urgent care centers for their critical wound care needs.

Of course, not all wounds will need medical attention. Scrapes and cuts usually only require at-home treatments like washing the wound and applying pressure for bleeding. But there are some injury cases where you need to go to an urgent care center for stitches.

UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Center ensures that all our patients receive the best possible care. Here’s five signs to look for to know when you need to visit one of our facilities for stitches.

1. The Laceration Is Deep and Long

The depth and length of the cut will be a significant factor in whether you need stitches. If the wound is only superficial, which means it only affects the top layer of skin, it can usually be treated at home. This is because the platelets in your blood will be able to form a clot and stop the bleeding.

However, you will need to go to an urgent care center for stitches if:

  • The cut is longer than 1/2 inch
  • The cut is at least 1/4 inch deep
  • You can see tendons, muscles or bone

2. You Can't Stop the Bleeding

If you have a deep or long cut, applying pressure to the wound is essential to stop the bleeding. If the bleeding continues, it is time to go to an urgent care center. The medical team there will be able to clean and dress the wound so healing can start.

If blood spurts from the wound with each heartbeat, this is a sign of damage to an artery. This type of bleeding requires immediate medical attention.

3. The Wound Is Over a Joint

The location of the wound is also a critical factor in whether you need to go to a health care service center for stitches. If the cut is over a joint, such as your knee, elbow, or shoulder, it will be more difficult for the wound to heal correctly. There is constant movement at these joints, which can cause the cut to reopen.

It is vital to have a medical professional look at any wound over a joint to determine if it needs stitches. These injuries can damage the area's tendons or ligaments if not treated correctly.

4. The Cause Is a Bite or Puncture

You should also go to an urgent care center if you have been punctured by a sharp-edged object, like a nail or piece of glass. These wounds can be difficult to clean on your own and may require antibiotics to prevent infection.

For animal bites, you will need to get a tetanus shot from a health care facility in most cases.

5. The Cut Is on a Cosmetically Sensitive Area

If the cut is on your face, hand or another cosmetically sensitive area, this may also require stitches. Cuts to these areas can cause scarring or impair movement if not treated correctly.

Get the Treatment You Need at UF Health

UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Center

In the past, the decision on where to go for your illnesses and injuries was up to you. Now, let us be the expert to diagnose and treat you anytime you need us, all at one location.

At UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Centers, our primary goal is to provide the residents of Northeast Florida with exceptional service and the proper billing for the care they need. Our combined emergency room and urgent care is fully equipped to handle everything from allergies to chest pain with on-site labs, X-ray, ultrasound and CT, all under one roof.

The ER and urgent care centers are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No appointment is necessary — just walk in!

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