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How do I know if my wound needs stitches?

It can be difficult to judge when a wound requires stitches. One rule of thumb is that a healthcare provider will need to stitch a wound if the edges of skin do not fall together, the laceration involves the face, or when any wound is over 1/2 inch long.

Stitches speed the healing process, lessen the chances of infection, and minimize scarring. They should be placed within the first few hours after the injury.

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

There are several signs that may help you to know when you should see your doctor about stitches for your wound. These signs include if the wound is jagged or on your face, if the edges of the wound flap open, if you can’t move comfortably, if the wound is deep, or if you haven’t received a tetanus shot in 5 years. If your wound shoots blood or if the blood seeps through the bandage, you should see your doctor about stitches. You should also see your doctor if you experience signs of infection. Signs of infection include a temperature over 100 ˚ F, redness spreading from the wound site, increasing pain, drainage, warmth, swelling, and a bad odor from the sore.

Dr. Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgeon

If you are uncertain as to whether your wound needs stitches, consider seeking attention of a qualified physician. Some examples of wounds requiring sutures include large facial wounds, bleeding incisions, wounds around the eyes and mouth/lips, large full thickness wounds throughout the body. 

You will know that your wound needs stitches when you see a deep, wide, or gaping wound that is more than 2 to 3 millimeters.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.