Does Your Cut Require Stitches? Signs That You Need Medical Assistance

Kenneth Knowles, MD
Medically reviewed by Kenneth Knowles, MDSeptember 29th, 2021

Does Your Cut Require Stitches? Signs That You Need Medical Assistance

Just about everyone has suffered their fair share of cuts and scrapes. For the most part, these injuries require being cleaned and covered in a bandage for a few days. However, a more serious cut might have you wondering if it requires stitches, which are special types of threads that are used to close a wound. This isn’t a situation that you can deliberate, either—time is of the essence when it comes to fairly deep lacerations. So, it’s important to recognize the signs that you need medical assistance. These include:

The Size of the Wound

Size is a strong indicator for determining if a cut requires stitches. Both length and depth should be considered when assessing the size of a cut. The wound likely requires stitches if it is:

  • Deeper or longer than half an inch

  • Deep enough that fatty tissue, muscle, or bone is exposed

  • Wide or gaping

The Amount of Blood

A cut or laceration that is bleeding profusely and continues to do so for more than 10 minutes most likely requires stitches. Additionally, if blood is spurting (gushing out in a sudden and forceful stream) this may be a sign of a nicked or severed artery. This situation not only warrants stitches but also immediate medical attention from an emergency room.

The Location of the Wound

You may need to get stitches for a cut if it is on a certain part of the body. For example, a wound that is on or spans across joints will likely require stitches, especially if the cut opens each time you move the joint. Lacerations on other parts of the body such as the face or genitalia should also be evaluated immediately.

The Cause of the Wound

The cause of the laceration may also require you to seek medical assistance, whether or not stitches are needed. Puncture wounds, especially from something like a rusty nail, have a higher risk of infection than other wounds and may need a tetanus booster or antibiotics, and possibly stitches as well. Wounds caused by an animal bite pose the risk of infection or rabies and also need to be given prompt medical attention.

In-Home Stitches & Wound Care

For life-threatening wounds and lacerations, you should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. In situations where your cut isn’t life-threatening but still requires medical assistance, you have the option to receive in-home treatment from DispatchHealth. Our team of medical professionals can come directly to your home and provide attentive and comprehensive treatment for cuts, lacerations, abrasions, and other non-life-or-limb-threatening conditions.

Contact us to receive prompt care in the comfort of your own home. Request an appointment through our website, mobile app, or over the phone.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

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