Most of the time, small lacerations and cuts can be treated at home with basic first-aid supplies. But there are instances when at-home treatment isn’t sufficient to stop the bleeding or prevent unsightly scars. How do you know when a cut needs medical treatment? Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should visit the emergency room:
Cuts vs. Lacerations
Even though the words “cut” and “laceration” are often used as synonyms, there are distinct differences in the type of wound. Cuts usually occur when sharp objects come in contact with the skin, such as shards of glass or a knife. On the other hand, laceration is the term used when the wound is jagged because the skin was torn. Lacerations can be caused by sharp objects as well, but the edges aren’t as clean as a cut.
Small lacerations and cuts usually don’t require emergency services. But if you don’t access medical treatment when needed, then the wound might become infected, or it might not heal on its own.
If you have a small laceration or cut, then you should use cold water and soap to clean the wound. Pressure can be applied to stop the bleeding. Then, apply an antibiotic ointment and cover the wound with a bandage to prevent infection.
Why Stitches for Lacerations?
Visiting an ER for a cut or laceration will help you determine whether stitches are needed to keep the wound closed. Depending on the injury, stitches can be placed using materials that will dissolve with time. Or, if removable stitches are used, you will need to come back to the urgent care to have the stitches removed at the appropriate time.
Stitches are beneficial for keeping the skin pulled together. This medical treatment reduces the risk of infection, accelerates healing, and minimizes scarring. Other medical services might be required as well, such as treatment to stop the bleeding or the repair of underlying tissue damage. It is important to know when you received your last tetanus vaccination to determine if a tetanus shot is needed.
Signs You Need to Go to the ER
Inspect the wound site to determine if emergency medical treatment is needed. Here are a few common signs that you should go to the emergency room:
- Edges of the wound are jagged
- Heavy bleeding or it won’t stop bleeding
- A toe or finger is partially or fully cut off
- The cut is on the face
- The cut is longer than ½ inch
- Wound penetrates the chest, head, or abdomen
- Skin is gaping open
- Yellow pus is draining out of the sore
- Red streaks form on the skin around the wound
- It is a puncture wound
- Caused by a rusty or dirty object
- Bone is visible
- The cut is deep enough that muscles or tendons may have been severed
Our board-certified staff at iCare ER and Urgent Care is here to help with all of your emergency medical concerns. We offer both urgent care and emergency services under the same roof, ensuring you won’t pay ER prices if emergency services aren’t required. We provide 24/7 medical care and invite you to visit us right away: (214) 407-8668.