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When That Cut Deserves Medical Attention

Accidents happen just like that. One minute, everything’s normal — maybe you’re making a meal or staying active outside. The next, you’re bleeding from an unexpected cut.

Minor injuries are a fact of life. For some cuts, cleaning, disinfecting, and applying a bandage are enough to take care of the problem. Other cuts, though, should be seen by a doctor in order to prevent serious infection, significant scarring, or other issues with healing safely. So, what criteria do you use to know whether to seek medical attention for a cut?

At Monrovia Internal Medicine & Primary Care in Duarte, California, Ulin Sargeant, MD, MPH provides a full range of urgent care services. If you need attention for a cut, Dr. Sargeant is ready to help. Here’s what she advises about seeking medical care after a cut.

How big is the cut?

The size of your cut is a main indicator of whether you’ll need stitches. Stitches, or sutures, can hold a long, deep, or wide cut closed, allowing healing and minimizing scarring. 

If your cut is longer or deeper than a half-inch, or if you can see exposed fatty tissue, muscle, or bone, you need stitches or sterile adhesive strips. Seek medical attention promptly.

How badly is the cut bleeding?

Some cuts that don’t need medical attention can bleed a lot initially, so this can be difficult to assess. Err on the side of caution, and get your cut checked out if you see profuse bleeding that still hasn’t stopped after 10 minutes of direct pressure, as you may need stitches.

Get medical care right away if you experience bleeding that won’t stop with applied pressure, or if blood is spurting from your cut — potentially signs of a severed artery.

Where is the cut located?

Depending on where a cut is located, it can pose more or less of a serious problem.

If your cut crosses over one of your joints, you might need stitches to prevent repeated reopening due to normal joint movement. You could also have damage to a tendon or ligament if you have a wound in close proximity to a joint.

Cuts on your face and genitals should be checked out by a doctor right away, too, to reduce or eliminate cosmetic concerns like scarring. Seek medical attention as soon as possible for cuts on your face, eyelids, or genitals.

Are there any signs of infection?

Some types of injuries are more prone than others to infection. If you were injured by a rusty or contaminated object, seek care right away — no matter how deep or shallow the injury might be — in order to protect yourself from infection such as tetanus.

Contact Monrovia Internal Medicine & Primary Care if you start to see signs of infection due to a cut, such as:

An infection needs treatment with antibiotics, and you may also need stitches to help your cut heal.

Dr. Sargeant provides high-quality urgent care at short notice. If you have a cut that needs medical attention, contact Monrovia Internal Medicine & Primary Care right away. You can use our online booking tool to schedule a telephone consultation or an in-office appointment now.

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