Do you find our website to be helpful?
Yes   No
Skip to main content

When That Cut Might Need Stitches

Whether your knife slipped while slicing a melon, your elbow split when you fell and hit the pavement, or a sharp object punctured your foot, lacerations can range from mild to severe. Learning to tell the difference and knowing when to seek medical attention can help you ensure proper healing.

Skin lacerations are fairly common, and we see many different types of wounds here at Woodstock Family Practice & Urgent Care in Woodstock, Georgia. If your wound is life-threatening, go straight to an emergency facility, but for all others, urgent care is made for these types of injuries. 

Dr. James Lee and our team have developed some guidelines to help you understand the difference between a minor wound you can easily treat at home and an injury that may need stitches. 

What kind of wound do you have?

The first step in assessing whether your wound needs stitches is determining what kind of wound you have. Most skin wounds fall into one of four main categories:


When your skin scrapes against something hard or rough (like pavement), especially with great force or impact, you get an abrasion. Skinned knees and road rash are common abrasions. 

Because the skin is scraped away, there’s nothing to stitch together, but it’s very important to clean the wound thoroughly. If you have trouble removing dirt and debris from an abrasion, we can help you.


Chefs, mechanics, and woodworkers all have one thing in common — they work with sharp tools. And even the most skilled among them get lacerations, or deep cuts, now and then. Of course, you don’t have to work with tools to suffer a laceration; it can happen to anyone.

Depending on the location of your laceration, bleeding may be profuse. If so, it requires professional cleaning and stitches.


Whether you pricked your finger with a needle or impaled yourself with a nail, puncture wounds can be painful and dangerous. 

Even if there’s not much bleeding, the implement may have penetrated deeply enough to damage tissues and organs far beneath the surface of the skin and may have introduced bacteria or other pathogens along with it. 

You may need a tetanus shot if you’ve sustained a puncture wound.


Avulsions are the most serious of skin wounds and are often the result of violent car accidents or other traumatic events that crush the body and tear open not only the skin but underlying tissues and muscles. Explosions and gunshot wounds are types of avulsions.

Take care of minor wounds at home

Small cuts that don’t bleed much or that stop bleeding in 10-20 minutes are fine to treat at home following these guidelines:

If you notice any signs of infection, such as redness and swelling that won’t subside, fever, skin that’s hot to the touch, red streaks near the wound, or pus draining from the wound, come see us right away.

When to seek urgent care for your wound

Here are some signs that your wound is more serious and you need expert medical care to ensure proper healing:

If any of these scenarios describes your wound, come to Woodstock Family Practice & Urgent Care immediately. We can assess the severity of your wound, give you a tetanus shot if you have a puncture wound, and close the wound with stitches if necessary.

What are stitches?

Stitches, also called sutures, are used in much the same way as thread is used to join two pieces of fabric. Typically made of silk or nylon, sutures rejoin the edges of your cut skin and hold them together long enough for natural healing to occur. 

Some stitches are designed to dissolve after a few weeks or so, which means you don’t have to come back for removal. This is especially handy for mouth injuries.

Not only do stitches support this natural knitting together of your tissue, they also keep the wound closed during the process, which helps to prevent more bleeding and the onset of infection. Sutures also reduce the size of your scar after the skin has healed. 

If you have a serious cut or other type of skin wound that needs medical attention, contact us by phone or online, or simply walk in without an appointment. 

You Might Also Enjoy...

Am I Too Young for Arthritis?

Am I Too Young for Arthritis?

Your creaky knees and stiff wrists might be giving you the unwelcome news that you have arthritis, even if you think you’re too young for the joint disease. Here are the telltale signs.
How Low Testosterone Can Affect Your Health

How Low Testosterone Can Affect Your Health

Most men know that low testosterone can cause trouble in the bedroom, but did you know it can also wreak havoc with your overall health? Here’s what you need to know about the link between “low T” and physical and mental health conditions.

5 Early Signs of Hypothyroidism in Women

Your period is out of whack, and you just don’t feel like yourself. It’s hard to describe, and you aren’t even sure it’s anything to worry about. Could it be hypothyroidism? Here’s how to tell.
How to Combat Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

How to Combat Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

One minute, you’re fine; the next, you’re ripping off your sweater and opening all of the windows — what gives? Your sudden surges of internal heat are telltale signs of menopause. Here’s how to keep your cool.

What Is Hypertension and What Can I Do About It?

In many cases, hypertension doesn’t produce symptoms for a long time. However, persistent high blood pressure can have serious consequences. Find out more here about high blood pressure and how to prevent it.