Does My Child Need Stitches?

bike accidentYou hear a loud thud followed by screaming from the next room.  You frantically run in to find your ten-year-old sitting on the floor, holding her arm, while blood has seeped into her clothing.  You take a look at the cut and realize that this is something a bandage can’t fix.

Between the school yard, sports, and everyday play, children can end up with bruises, scrapes, and cuts.

While many can be treated at home, it’s important to know when a “minor cut” might need medical attention, or even a few stitches.  Many parents have difficulty accessing if their child’s “little boo-boo” needs extra care, especially if they are actively bleeding.

Here’s a guide to help you decide if stitches are needed, and guidelines for proper wound care for stitches.

What is the first thing I should do if my child gets hurt?

The first thing you should do when your child gets hurt is not panic.  When you handle the wound delicately and carefully, your child will remain calm, too.  

The next few steps include:

  • Accessing if the cut is minor or major
  • Finding an appropriate item such as a clean towel or cloth and gently pressing onto the cut
  • For larger bumps, bruises, or cuts, applying ice wrapped in a towel

How do I know if my child needs medical care?

Minor cuts don’t always require extra treatment, but if the wound is gaping and has been actively bleeding for more than a few minutes, it’s best to seek medical attention.  The main reason of getting stitches is to stop active bleeding, especially if the cut is large.

Some signs to know whether stitches are needed include:

  • If the cut is deep
  • If the cut is gaping open with visible dark red muscle, or yellowish fat
  • If the cut can use stitches for cosmetic reasons to improve appearance

How soon should I seek medical attention for stitches?

Most cuts should be closed within 24 hours following the accident.  It’s important not to let the cut dry out and to clean the wound regularly with sterile saline and gauze.

How do I take care of the wound after it’s closed?

A few ways to take care of a wound/stitches following the incident include:

  • Avoiding getting the wound wet in the bath or shower for at least 24 hours
  • Avoiding the buildup of a scab by dabbing diluted hydrogen peroxide to the wound to remove any loose scab and avoiding picking at the scab
  • Applying antibiotic ointment regularly
  • Keeping the wound covered for at least 48 hours

How do I know if the wound is getting infected?  

After the first few days following the injury, it’s normal for the skin around the cut to have a red appearance. However, if the redness continues to spread, you see discharge from the wound, or you develop a fever, you should seek medical care.


Treatment for Minor Injuries at Synergy Immediate Care

At Synergy Immediate Care, we provide a range of urgent care medical services on a walk-in basis, including either medical glue or stitches for many types of lacerations.  Our medical professionals will work with you to provide the best possible care for your child. For more information about the urgent care services we provide, please call us at 703-942-5331 to speak with one of our staff or schedule an appointment.

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